Time for Thurston to retire – before it’s too late

Jason Andrews Roar Pro

By Jason Andrews, Jason Andrews is a Roar Pro

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101 Have your say

    With the North Queensland Cowboys having their most disappointing start to a season in years, losing five of their last six, and the ageing Johnathan Thurston looking like a shell of himself, it’s time for him to hang up the boots.

    He should go out while many think he is still the best footballer of a generation, rather than leaving a bitter taste in anyone’s mouth.

    Thurston has played over 300 games, won four Dally M Medals, three Golden Boots, two premierships and a Clive Churchill Medal – along with countless other awards over his 16-year career. I would love to see his pool room.

    So why keep playing? What is left to achieve?

    Last year’s final series showed the Cowboys don’t need Thurston to win big games anymore. This season is showing he is a problem more than a solution.

    Don't say no to Thursto

    AAP Image/Michael Chambers

    Obviously, coming back from his shoulder injury has put a huge toll on his body, and next week Thurston celebrates his 35th birthday, thus entering the age where you’re too old be called young, but too young to be called old – speaking from experience, your mid-30s suck.

    His inactivity period is also working against him, Thurston looks sluggish and out on his feet only minutes after kick off, and struggles the rest of the game. I was there to witness his 300th match and he looked worn out after 15 minutes. Worse still, the Cowboys have not won a game since (damn that goalpost tackling at the Broncos game).

    But the greatest never know when to stop.

    Muhammad Ali – not just the greatest boxer, but athlete this world has ever known – was advised by his doctor, Ferdie Pacheco, to quit after the brutal ‘Thrilla in Manila’ against Joe Frazier in 1975. That fight saw both men come close to dying in the ring, but Ali had ten more fights over a six-year period, with a two-year retirement in between.

    He finally hung up the gloves after his loss in 1981 to future heavyweight champ Trevor Burbick, but with major medical problems. His last two fights were completely unnecessary and never should have happened.

    From 1981 until his death in 2016, Ali was battling Parkinson’s disease. I often wonder, if he retired when told to how different his life would have been.

    Close-up of Muhammad Ali

    Ali’s eventual heavyweight successor, Mike Tyson, was also a broken man by 2005. In the commentary of his last fight, against Kevin McBride, it was asked, “Has ‘Iron Mike’ become ‘Mellow Mike’?” i

    In that fight, Tyson fell over after the bell, slumping into the ropes, with the ref having to pick him up.

    His trainer, Aussie Jeff Fenech, called off the fight to further save Tyson from any more embarrassment, calling an end to the second-greatest career in heavyweight boxing history.

    Surely Thurston does not want to share the same fate as Ali or Tyson? I know that comparing boxers to footy players is a bit of a stretch, so let’s look at Wally Lewis.

    ‘The King’ had one of the best careers ever, winning premierships in the Bribsbane Rrugby League, Origin and Test victories – many as captain – and being named an Immortal in 1999.

    However, after a dispute with Wayne Bennett, Lewis left the Brisbane Broncos to finish his playing days with the Gold Coast Seagulls, where he was not at his best and it tarnished many brilliant memories.

    It was a terrible way for the best-ever player to finish, with many wondering why he bothered.

    Johnathan Thurston is in danger of doing the same. He needs to give it up now, rather than later, as each lost dulls his past.

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    The Crowd Says (101)

    • Roar Pro

      April 20th 2018 @ 5:23am
      Kurt S said | April 20th 2018 @ 5:23am | ! Report

      Interesting read. There might be a bit more noise about moving Thurston early if Morgan was playing well. Morgan’s form iswell down on previous years.

      Thurston is still worth his position for his goal kicking alone.

      He might be coming back from serious injury but the rest of the team really need to lift and show some coherent form. If that happens, then Thurston’s input per game will be more clear.

    • April 20th 2018 @ 5:38am
      farqueue said | April 20th 2018 @ 5:38am | ! Report

      Ali was not even the greatest boxer the world has seen let alone the greatest athlete and in my opinion not even the greatest heavyweight the world has seen.
      Look up a guy called Sugar Ray Robinson.
      Joe Louis was HW champ for almost 11 years.
      Ali lost to Frazier, Spinks and Norton…. hardly the resume of the greatest athlete ever.

      • April 20th 2018 @ 6:05am
        Wascally Wabbit said | April 20th 2018 @ 6:05am | ! Report

        Or look up Jim Thorpe.

      • Roar Guru

        April 20th 2018 @ 6:15am
        BigJ said | April 20th 2018 @ 6:15am | ! Report

        Do you’re research mate, the only reason Joe Louis was champ for so long was because of WW2 and he didn’t fight while serving duty during the war. Plus Ali would of cleaned Joe up in six rounds. I don’t really think that authors intentions was to start a debate about Ali, just to merely point out that if Thurston keeps going and losing it would tarnish his brilliant career. I liked the article made sense excellent read

        • April 20th 2018 @ 8:25am
          Jed Clampit said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

          Joe Louis was the WHC for 11yrs , that remains a fact , the fact that there was a war thrown in was not of his doing , so he could only achieve what he did.
          And , I’m interested to know how you come to the conclusion that Ali would ” clean him up” in six rounds ?
          Ali was a poster boy that talked like no other , and could back it up in the ring .
          Did he fight on too long , you would have to think , yes is the answer .
          Was he the greatest ? If you were to ask Ali himself, YES , would be the answer , but I’m sure plenty would disagree.
          For me , Rocky Marciano was the man .

          • April 20th 2018 @ 8:50am
            Greg said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:50am | ! Report

            Wladimir Klitschko has the record for the longest time as heavyweight champion – 4,382 days vs 4,270 days for Louis.

            • Roar Guru

              April 20th 2018 @ 9:45am
              BigJ said | April 20th 2018 @ 9:45am | ! Report

              Klitschko would be ko Louis anyway no problem

          • Roar Guru

            April 20th 2018 @ 9:14am
            BigJ said | April 20th 2018 @ 9:14am | ! Report

            The rock, are you kidding me. Rock was champ for like six fights before he retirement. Ali was named sportsman of the century by time magazine and others. So Ali beats them both hands down. Plus Ali was to quick for Louis

            • April 20th 2018 @ 7:10pm
              no one in particular said | April 20th 2018 @ 7:10pm | ! Report

              Ali only became the greatest once his Parkinsons battle began

            • April 20th 2018 @ 10:02pm
              Jed Clampit said | April 20th 2018 @ 10:02pm | ! Report

              Ahh , Time magazine , one of the more highly regarded sports periodicals I’m sure .

          • Roar Guru

            April 20th 2018 @ 9:59am
            BigJ said | April 20th 2018 @ 9:59am | ! Report

            Marciano only had six fights as champ then retired, he beat a lot of nobodies before he became champ.

            • Roar Guru

              April 20th 2018 @ 12:28pm
              Con Scortis said | April 20th 2018 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

              Stop fighty you guys. Everyone knows that Ivan Drago would have walloped the lot of them.

              • Roar Guru

                April 20th 2018 @ 1:19pm
                BigJ said | April 20th 2018 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

                Ha ha very funny Con

          • April 20th 2018 @ 11:51am
            Mushi said | April 20th 2018 @ 11:51am | ! Report

            Every time a white talks about boxing they’ve got to bring up rocky marciano

            • April 20th 2018 @ 1:53pm
              bilo said | April 20th 2018 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

              Joe Louis was 75 years old when they fought!

              • April 20th 2018 @ 3:41pm
                Mushi said | April 20th 2018 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

                His name is Cassius Clay, his momma called him that so I’m gonna call him Cassius

            • April 20th 2018 @ 7:11pm
              no one in particular said | April 20th 2018 @ 7:11pm | ! Report

              If loving the Lord is wrong, I don;t wanna be right

            • April 20th 2018 @ 7:45pm
              Jed Clampit said | April 20th 2018 @ 7:45pm | ! Report

              White , A White , are you serious?
              What a divisive response..
              I’m sooo sorry if I regard a man of Italian ancestry more highly than “A Black”.
              49 fights 49 wins 43 by KO
              56 fights 5 losses 37 by KO and knocked out once .
              If Ali wasn’t a self promoting show pony , he wouldn’t have gained anywhere near the notoriety.
              Fair dinkum , a person can’t even have an opinion these days without having some kind of racial slur directed at them.

              • Roar Pro

                April 20th 2018 @ 8:25pm
                Jason Andrews said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:25pm | ! Report

                I agree with your statement Jed but who knocked out Ali?? Norton didn’t (he broke his jaw in the first fight, Ali finished the fight. Frazier knocked him down in the 15th but he was up after the count of two and finished the fight. Spinks took Ali to the judges scorecards and Angelo Dundee stopped the fight with Holmes after the ten round, he was on his stool. Berbick won on a ten round decision, so no one ever KO Ali.

              • April 20th 2018 @ 8:36pm
                Jed Clampit said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:36pm | ! Report

                Kent Green .
                How’s that for a ” no name” .

              • Roar Pro

                April 20th 2018 @ 10:45pm
                Jason Andrews said | April 20th 2018 @ 10:45pm | ! Report

                yep looked him up, defeated Ali in the golden gloves, not as a pro though

            • May 31st 2018 @ 8:26pm
              Special K said | May 31st 2018 @ 8:26pm | ! Report

              He beat Joe Louis’ ass. Thats right, he did whoop Joe Louis ass. Joey Louis a 137 years old.

      • April 20th 2018 @ 8:34am
        jimmmy said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:34am | ! Report

        Robinson lost 19 fights . Raw stats mean nothing anyway. Ali at his prime was pure poetry. He transcended sport . There really has been no one like him, before or since.

    • April 20th 2018 @ 7:12am
      No worries said | April 20th 2018 @ 7:12am | ! Report

      Peter Sterling was a champion half back who had to retire mid season after continued shoulder operations .
      He did the right thing , everyone respected his decision and he had nothing to prove to anyone.

    • April 20th 2018 @ 7:16am
      Forty Twenty said | April 20th 2018 @ 7:16am | ! Report

      It’s very easy to answer the question, ‘ what is left to achieve’ ? , a second premiership at the Cows. For such a high achiever he wouldn’t be happy with just the one title.

      • April 20th 2018 @ 7:28am
        Roberto said | April 20th 2018 @ 7:28am | ! Report

        A gifted premiership that Brisbane choked in & undeserving Clive Churchill, otherwise he’s club achievements would be dreary considering the superstars he played with at the Cowboys for a decade.

        • April 20th 2018 @ 8:16am
          Jed Clampit said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:16am | ! Report

          Gee Wiz , some people are hard to please.

        • April 20th 2018 @ 8:23am
          Paul said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:23am | ! Report

          can you list ALL the superstars Thurston’s apparently played with in Townsville please? I remember a few good players, but he didn’t play like Wally did with a near Test side at the Broncos.

          • Roar Rookie

            April 20th 2018 @ 12:56pm
            Don said | April 20th 2018 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

            Steve Southern, George Gatis, Dan Abraham, Ray Cashmere, Sam Faust, Nick Slyney, Dayne Weston…

            You know…those top players…

            • April 20th 2018 @ 2:20pm
              Griggso said | April 20th 2018 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

              Hey hang on there Don – Bluey Southern was a bloody Legend!

              ….can’t say I remember Nick Slyney though. And no mention of Shane Tronc?

        • April 20th 2018 @ 8:35am
          R N said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:35am | ! Report

          No premiership is gifted… agree undeserved CC though.

        • April 20th 2018 @ 8:39am
          jimmmy said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:39am | ! Report

          ‘Considering the Superstars he has played with at the Cow.?’ I have read it all now.

          • Roar Guru

            April 20th 2018 @ 1:20pm
            Rellum said | April 20th 2018 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

            I guess there had been Mat Bowen, Matt Scott and Taumalolo.

        • Roar Guru

          April 20th 2018 @ 8:47am
          Nat said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:47am | ! Report

          At 22, he took a team of no-names to a GF. They stayed close enough to win against Broncos then done the job, then kick the field goal. Kept NQ in the finals campaigns ever since. 36 straight SoO games, kicking the winning goal and playing with a busted shoulder. Gets targeted and belted every game and bounces up. Golden Boot, Wally Lewis Medalist, Most Dally Ms, Humanitarian Award but he’s has missed a few tackles and keyboard kings like you claim everyone else chocked for him to be acknowledged as the Best Ever.

          • April 20th 2018 @ 8:59am
            jimmmy said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:59am | ! Report

            It’s totally unbelievable Nat. You just gotta shake your head in total bemusement .

          • April 20th 2018 @ 9:17am
            Wayne Turner said | April 20th 2018 @ 9:17am | ! Report

            Spot on Nat.

          • April 20th 2018 @ 6:56pm
            Rob said | April 20th 2018 @ 6:56pm | ! Report

            Who did he take to the finals at 22? The Cowboys played the preliminary final the year before and one could argue the rub of a very bumpy (Roosters) green went against them.
            Their team of “No Names “contained 7 players that represented at Origin level when he arrived in 2005. Travis Norton not a SOO player was Captain and Paul Rauhihi (NZ international ) and Aaron Payne not a SOO player were also in the team. Interesting stat, Payne had won 58% of (34 games) before JT arrived and 49.7% when he finished.
            When JT was selected to Captain the club in 2007 they finished 3rd. In 2008 (15th), 2009 (12th), 2010 (15th). Under his leadership one could argue they went backwards?
            He was presented with the 2015 CC. premiership medal. He wasn’t even in the best 10 player on field that night. Lets be honest without that miracle from Morgan and a lot of choking in the last 15min from some Broncos he wouldn’t have won a premiership. He had a lot of good teammates win that game IMO.
            They missed a lot of opportunities to get to the GF during his career. They made the GF without him?
            His record at SOO is fantastic but he has been fortunate to play with some very special players around him at that level which the opposition have not.
            He is one of the toughest, most competitive and instinctive player of his generation without a doubt. A great captain ? Right now he’s not the only one struggling but he isn’t doing himself or his teammates any favours being out there in defence or being unable to beat defenders. If he isn’t the chief playmaker and getting the better of the opposition, I don’t see the point of him playing on.
            Hang up the boots Champion your best was special to watch but that is behind you. I’d prefer the young blokes run the show now.

            • Roar Pro

              April 20th 2018 @ 8:27pm
              Jason Andrews said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:27pm | ! Report

              well said, my thoughts exactly

            • Roar Guru

              April 21st 2018 @ 1:34pm
              Nat said | April 21st 2018 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

              Come on Rob, you’re cherry picking. JT took them to the GF, on the back of his Dally M winning season. All these SoO players you refer too peak at Matt Bowen and Sing. Players like Hannay, Jensen, Bowman and Webb et al… is more due to lack of depth than available quality. Much like saying Johns dominated the Blues #7 when his opposite was Adrian Lamb: good but different class. He won his 2nd two yrs later in 07 as his first year as Captain. Yes they had some tough years 08-10 but you are discounting the retirement of 5 of those Rep players and O’Donnell spending more time on the bench than the field. In 09, he was 2nd only to Hayne (and his late season run) in DallyM but still took the Dall M #7 from a losing team. Suffice to say, 3 poor years against 7 years of finals and a premiership is a pretty decent record even with ‘Hand of Foran’, No Forward Pass (Roosters) and 7 tackle set against Sharks so let’s not talk Rub of the Green.

              Interesting point to your Fact: Payne did have a 58% win record prior to JTs arrival, that means 19 games. He went on to play 187 more games and a GF, so about 92 more wins under him.

              At SoO level, his level of consistency is unsurpassed and has won every medal possible. You say he played with some “special players” but that wasn’t the case when he started. In fact, they would argue they were lucky to be in his team. 05, JT, Slater, Smith, Inglis all played and lost for the 3rd series straight. G1 in 06, QLD were pumped again against King, Tahu, Gaz, Cooper, Anasta, Buderis, Hindmarsh, Gallen, Mason, Ryan and Craig Wing so who were the no -names? These Qld guys were not in the same conversation but they got home and started their dynasty on team work, not individuals.

              Your opinion on the 15 GF is just that. I agree Milford outplayed him but he was absolutely in the conversation but we all know the CC hasn’t always gone to the most deserving. The bloke has more 4 Dally Ms, 7 positional Dally Ms, 3 Golden Boots, 2 premierships and top 5 attacking stats in every category this season. He is the best in bad teams and good and to say he should retire because he missed a few tackles as he does every year, is short sighted and not viewing the Cowboys teams’ performance on the whole.

              • April 21st 2018 @ 5:46pm
                Rob said | April 21st 2018 @ 5:46pm | ! Report

                How do you say they are No names. Playing for your state and Country and more than 200 NRL games? Matt Bowen (270) Aus rep Slater was playing 1 also, Matt Sing (275) AUS rep, Bowman (203) 12x SOO, Hannay (153) 2 wins from 2 in SOO. Aaron Payne didn’t play SOO but Cameron Smith did during much of his career. Depth issues I believe you say. Rahihi was the best prop in the game in 2005 (19) internationals and in the NZ. WC winning side of 2005. Carl Webb (187) 12x SOO at 50 % AUS was coming of the bench for the Cowboys. I forgot about O’donnel but he’s a NSW rep and they were good you say. Jensen? Maybe T.Williams. Lillyman, Scott and G.Cooper all in the 20’s. The 2004 Cowboys beat JT’s Bulldog “Premiers” in the semi finals, They beat Brisbane in the 2004 finals (2006 premiers). Would you like me to name the No Names playing against the Cowboys and losing by a comfortable margin in 2004 Finals series? Please name the Tigers half that owned him in 2005 finals 80-22.
                He has alway needed protection in defensive line. In his younger years he was everywhere and held on for help to arrive. Now he is being steamrolled. I’m stating his impact in attack is much lower now compared to some of the options. Milford, Granville, Tamou, Taumalolo, Parker, Blair, Morgan, Feldt, even O’nell were outstanding in comparison to JT in 2015 final. The Broncos scored 10 points as direct mistakes made by JT on the night. I suppose you believe Thurston used ESP on Hunt to spear tackle Linnett in the final minute and concede a penalty. He then set up Morgan for Feldt to score and he magically cast a spell on Oats to tackle ? leaving his wing so Feldt could stroll over. He then whispered to God for Hunt to drop the kick off on the goal line. What a player.
                Interesting that he has an average W/L record against Johns, Lockyer, Prince, Marshal Cronk, Kimorley and Sandow.
                I wonder how he would be playing for QLD against Stuart, Clyde, Lazurius, Fitler, Harrigon, Pay, Roberts, Daley. in their prime like Alf with Kevin.

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 4:38pm
                Nat said | April 23rd 2018 @ 4:38pm | ! Report

                Rob in 05 the current Qld legends were no names. in 04, JT was a bench player for the Dogs. You’ve misread what I wrote about Sing and Bowen, I mean to say, they were the highest regarded (peaked, and I still rate Sing very highly) in that team but neither will be regarded in the same breathe as Mini or Gaz etc will they? As I said, the others played SOO more due to lack of depth then outstanding ability. (Wikipedia shouldn’t be your reference point for stats).

                What is your point about his W/L stats against those players Lockyer/Cronk/Johns have significantly better records but their teams are incomparable. Kimmorley edges him by >3% mostly due to his time at Melbourne but he smashes Prince, Marshall, Sandow. If we’re cherry picking, should we throw rep stats in there as well?

                Yes, Benji outplayed him in the finals, as the did every team on the way to the Premiership (would’ve thought that;s a given not a point), but it was JT who picked up the Dally M, Dally M #7, RLPA Player OTY. So again, you can cherry pick stats but he was the clearly better half for the whole season. Benji has one Golden Boot and one positional Dally M, which is excellent but JT has multiple in many positions.

                Of course his impact is lower this year. He has never been the best defender without question and he’s coming off an 8 month lay off due to a shoulder reco. After 6 games you want to retire him??

                We will never know about playing against the last gen but if you have all the old heads saying he’s the best they’ve seen, and they’ve seen them all, it’s a fair bet he’d go OK.

              • Roar Guru

                April 23rd 2018 @ 7:41pm
                Rellum said | April 23rd 2018 @ 7:41pm | ! Report

                I would think Bowen would be regarded higher than Minichiello and Gasnier would even be in that conversation.

        • April 20th 2018 @ 9:14am
          Wayne Turner said | April 20th 2018 @ 9:14am | ! Report

          Geesh you are harsh. The only thing you got right was he didn’t deserve the Clive Churchill medal,that should have gone to Ben Hunt lol I mean Kyle Felt or Jake Granville.

          I guess you forget he led an ordinary Cowboys team in his first season there to the 2005 grand final,and carried the team most of the time until,the last few years when he finally got great players around him.No matter how great players are in team sports,they can’t do it alone egs: Michael Jordan,LeBron James,etc,etc…

        • April 20th 2018 @ 12:16pm
          Mushi said | April 20th 2018 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

          If you can’t appreciate an in his prime JT you will never find joy in rugby league

        • Roar Guru

          April 20th 2018 @ 2:50pm
          The Barry said | April 20th 2018 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

          Don’t worry about it…this blokes a clown who enjoys p1ssing over the achievements of greater men…

    • April 20th 2018 @ 8:00am
      peeko said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:00am | ! Report

      a champion wouldnt retire and give up after a few bad games. he would redeem himself. they need him, they lost most of their games without him last year

      • April 20th 2018 @ 10:46am
        Kangajets said | April 20th 2018 @ 10:46am | ! Report

        Champion he is

        However to play a full season well …..when injuries are keeping you from getting fully fit , is a very tough ask at 35 .

      • April 20th 2018 @ 8:09pm
        Rob said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:09pm | ! Report

        Unfortunately they have lost a lot of great young talent sticking with players well past their prime now. Now the older players are preventing the youngsters from coming through. I would gladly swap a JT, Winterstein, Linnett and L.Coote for 1x Ponga and a local junior like Nene Mcdonald or V. Holmes.
        A Scott Bolton, M.Scott, Fensom or G.Cooper for a Viliame Kikau. Brandon Smith and the Kafusi brothers. You can’t keep them all but they all left for what Thurston came to the Cowboys for, An opportunity.

    • April 20th 2018 @ 8:26am
      bear54 said | April 20th 2018 @ 8:26am | ! Report

      JT has been spear tackled by Father Time and Major Surgeries.

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