There will be no favours for Johnathan Thurston in his 200th game for North Queensland after discovering he will mark SBW.
Two words summed up Johnathan Thurston’s reaction when told he would be marking Sydney Roosters colossus Sonny Bill Williams in their NRL clash in Townsville on Saturday night.
“Oh no,” the North Queensland co-captain laughed.
Any thoughts of special treatment in his 200th game for the Cowboys were quickly dismissed when Thurston scanned the Roosters team sheet and discovered who would be wearing No.6.
For just the second time, the man dubbed SBW will play five-eighth for the Roosters.
And just in time for Thurston’s milestone match – a coincidence not lost on the bemused Cowboys pivot who gives away 22kg and 15cm to former Bulldogs teammate Williams.
Thurston admitted the Roosters would sorely miss suspended halfback Mitchell Pearce but did not play down the threat of Williams, arguably rugby league’s biggest pivot.
“I know Sonny quite well from my days at the Dogs but it doesn’t matter what jersey number he has on, he is very dangerous so no doubt we will have to do a job on him there,” Thurston said.
James Maloney has been shifted to halfback for the Roosters after Pearce was slapped with a one-game ban by the club for his off-field weekend antics.
“He gives a lot of direction to that team,” Thurston said of Pearce.
“He runs the ball, he has got great vision – they lose a lot there.
“But with those two boys (Maloney, Williams) there they will get them around the park.
“They will bunker down and fight for each other (without Pearce) – it will be a tough night at the office for us.”
Thurston has claimed two Dally M Medals and Golden Boot awards and played five finals series since linking with North Queensland in 2005.
He will join Matthew Bowen (270), Aaron Payne (219) and Paul Bowman (203) in the Cowboys 200-game club and will be eligible to become North Queensland’s fifth life member.
“I came to the club as a 21-year-old, very raw and no doubt this club has helped shape who I am today,” said Thurston who has three years left on his current contract.
“They have been a big part of my life and my family’s life.
“I came here for an opportunity to play in the halves week in, week out.
“Eight years on I have achieved a lot in the game. I have been blessed in that sense.
“We’ve got some unfinished business here (winning their first title)…(but) life’s pretty good.”