The night Thurston got eaten alive

Rugby League Week - - News - By Ge­off Prenter, RLW Found­ing Editor

COMETH THE HOUR, cometh the man, and Johnathan Thurston never failed to de­liver on the hour, as the Bron­cos will tes­tify af­ter JT landed the knock­out blow in their epic semi-fi­nal in Townsville.

But against the premier­ship-starved Sharks, Thurston got gob­bled up.

He played as though he had two left feet. Such easy prey.

Has a player of his qual­ity – and there have been few – ever been so in­nocu­ous? Had you in­vited some­one from over­seas to the game and told them they’d see the world’s best player weave his magic, you would prob­a­bly have had to re­fund their money.

What went wrong? What went so ter­ri­bly wrong?

Surely Thurston wasn’t over­awed by the crowd of 36,000 mo­nop­o­lised by black, blue and white.

For the first 25 min­utes he didn’t han­dle the foot­ball. When he did, he looked lost. Ev­ery­thing about his game was sub-zero ex­cept for his ef­fort.

Where were the un­canny flick passes, the ac­cel­er­a­tion, the di­rec­tion from close to the rucks, the sweep­ing passes and at least one de­cent chip kick?

But of course, Thurston re­mains a giant of the game. Name me one player from any era who has bet­ter con­trol of the foot­ball. It’s as though it’s part of his body!

Never bag a cham­pion, and JT is a cham­pion from head to toe.

It’s just that I was bit­terly dis­ap­pointed with his per­for­mance last Fri­day night. And I’m sure count­less fans – re­gard­less of their club al­le­giance – would have felt like­wise.

So much of Thurston’s game is el­e­men­tary. But he ex­e­cutes the el­e­men­tary facets of foot­ball with so much pre­ci­sion, pace and pur­pose.

Poise should be his mid­dle name.

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