He is the man that will be King .
Championship ring. Check*. Golden Boot winner. Check & Check. Dally M Supreme Award. Check, Check and Check and this week when that same award ceremony rolls around "Check" again. (even if he does decide to check out of attending this one) Wally Lewis Medal (Best Origin player) Yup Check. Provan Summons Award. You guessed it. Check!
OK, you get the idea, the guy has done it all and some.
But.........and it is a big Kim Kardashian size buttttt....
From a purists point of view, they will tell you that sporting legends, immortals and the acronym GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) are marked against one key criteria which far outweighs any individual gong, any points scoring record and anything other than a CHAMPIONSHIP RING!
Think Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Lionel Messi and/or Richie McCaw of this world.
clutch/ "Indeflatable"/ mesmerizing/ leader.
Closer to code pick up the names I drop here; Andrew Johns, Darren Lockeyer, Alfie Langer, Mal Meninga, Laurie Daley, Brad Fittler of the former crop. The current class Greg Inglis, Cam Smith Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater.
What do these men all have in common (other than most of them are Queenslanders)
Yes that's right they all have a "Chip"
"But wait a minute Thurston already has a championship ring"
Ahhh yes I hear ya and you will point to the 2004 triumph with the Bulldogs as the case in point right?
He came off the bench played a cameo role to contribute to the victory.
Nobody can take that ring off him (although he did try to give it away voluntarily to Steve Price because he is a good fella and probably thought he would win heaps more).
He was just a kid when he ran with the dogs and showed enough promise in that early part of his career to suggest he was going to stamp his mark on the NRL competition for years to come.
And he did and still is balling......just not with the Dogs!
It cut deep when it was announced that JT was going to be shifted for the man they called "Shifty" aka Brent Sherwin who admittedly was killing it at the time shot calling behind a menacing pack.
11 years on the menacing pack at Belmore remains, Shifty does not, JT does..........but at the Cowboys.
And to think he came within a whisker of returning back to Belmore in 2013...........
(why do I do this to myself)
Back to the topic at hand, where was I?
2005 he leads the Cowboys to the big dance where he all BUT.........only to see the dance floor dominated by another mercurial talent one Benji Marshall who moonwalks around the Cowboys all the way to the winners podium before carrying on moon walking deep into the night/morning through various Sydney night spots.
Right at the top when I was checking off Thurston's accolades, the observant punters among us would have noticed I put an * next to "Championship Ring".
The long/short is he won that ring playing a lesser albeit still important role from the bench in 04.
The fact is, to be the GOAT he cannot dine out on the ring won from the pine.
Andrew Joey Johns who he will (should) replace as the Rugby League GOAT has won two championships (1997 & 2001 respectively) and he dominated in both.
Winning a competition in this era is arguably much tougher, especially for an elite talent like Thurston where his play is scrutinized, dissected and reverse engineered by opposition coaches poring over video picking apart perceived weakness and recording it in their play books guarded jealously like its the Davinci Code.
Make no mistake for all his guile like Alf, his footwork like Fittler, his control like Locky or his footy brain like Cam Smith, JT will not wrestle the crown off Joey if he fails to deliver this coming Sunday.
He will forever watch the throne that Andrew Johns currently sits on.........unless..........come Sunday he stands on that podium arms raised
Those other NRL greats that have come before him will be cast aside like the houses of Lannister and Starks in the Soprano meets middle earth that is the narrative, novel and blockbusting TV series The Game of Thrones
Will history judge him differently if he fails to lead his side to the NRL promised land on Sunday?
Winter is over , Spring is in the air along with anticipation that the current King one Andrew Johns will be dethroned, replaced by the heir, the most likely and the most deserving of the contenders.
The King is dead..............Long live he King!
Come Sunday, If the Cowboys locker room is being sprayed with navy blue and yellow confetti with the players smoking Cubans whilst sipping on some Dom Perignon......Well......Andrew Johns himself will rightly hand over the crown to JT (metaphorically speaking of course)
For all his ball playing attributes and highlight reels, Thurston probably deserves this more for the things that go seemingly unnoticed.
Take the fact he gives away two head gears per game one at halftime and the other when the full time siren goes to some unsuspecting young fan (usually from the opposition). After each conversion he chases after the kicking tee picks it up and hands it over to the ball boy (note hands it, does not chuck it like other kickers).
Heck he even chased away the seagulls that were obstructing his mate Cameron Smiths sight when he was lining up a kick.
Cameron Smith was captaining the opposition and this was a do or die loser leave the country elimination final I might add.
He deserves a championship ring for merely being a champion bloke.
In the words of the play making maestro himself with jumbo ears carrying a jumbo bag of tricks to boot.
Show & Go Baby!