Queensland playmaker Johnathan Thurston becomes just the eighth player to notch 30 State of Origin appearances on Wednesday night.
Johnathan Thurston hasn’t forgotten how losing felt in his first Origin series in 2005 and has implored his Maroon teammates to also feed off the pain.
Preparing to become just the eighth player in history to notch 30 Origin appearances on Wednesday night, Thurston revealed much of his pride on hitting the mark comes from early fears his debut series would also be his last.
The Blues clinched their third straight series with a 2-1 victory in 2005, leaving the-then 22-year-old wondering if new coach Mal Meninga would select him in 2006.
Now he will join the likes of Darren Lockyer, Allan Langer, Wally Lewis, Petero Civoniceva, Cameron Smith and Meninga as 30-plus Maroons.
While Smith, lining up for his 33rd game at Suncorp Stadium, is likely to break Lockyer’s record of 36, former NSW captain Steve Mortimer predicts Thurston will become the first man to 40.
“Thirty games is something that I take a great deal of pride in,” the Maroons playmaker said.
“And I think a fair bit of that comes from the fact I was part of a losing side in that first series and I genuinely wondered whether or not I would get another go.”
Smith and Corey Parker were the only other current Maroons to endured the bitter taste of series defeat before NSW broke an eight-year drought on June 18.
“We have said to the rest of the guys here ‘remember this feeling’,” he said. “I know I haven’t forgotten what it was like in ’05.
“I wasn’t real keen on having to deal with it again but NSW deserves their win.
“But at the same time, it will be on again in 12 months time and I would like to think this feeling we have will be a spur for us all.”
Set to also be remembered as one of Origin’s most influential players, Thurston has been kept well in check by the Blues’ brick wall defence this year.
But Meninga expects the return of chief organiser Cooper Cronk will free the Cowboys captain up to play his natural game.
With Cronk missing from the last 150 minutes of the past two games, Queensland have crossed for just one try.
Thurston also admitted Jarryd Hayne had lowered his colours by targeting his defence on the Maroons’ right side, highlighted by NSW’s two first-half tries in game one.
“Hayne has definitely been spotting me,” he said. “He did it when the Cowboys played the Eels too and I guess in the first game especially he probably caught me off guard a little.
“I thought we controlled his influence a lot better in Game II but the fact is he got the result.
“I do think our attack has been a bit off. We have a pair of centres in Hodgo and GI (Justin Hodges and Greg Inglis) who can do plenty of damage if we give them the ball with the time and space they need.
“That probably hasn’t happened.”