Kevvie leaves JT door open

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - PETER BADEL

QUEENS­LAND coach Kevin Wal­ters has ap­pealed for the Cow­boys to sup­port Johnathan Thurston should the Ma­roons maestro seek an Al­lan Langer- style Ori­gin come­back.

Wal­ters said he would have no hes­i­ta­tion pick­ing Thurston in 2018 af­ter the Cow­boys cham­pion flagged the pos­si­bil­ity of a fairy­tale Ori­gin re­turn in what shapes as his fi­nal sea­son in rugby league.

Thurston’s shoul­der in­jury has cru­elled his dream of an Ori­gin fi­nale this Wed­nes­day night and the 37- game leg­end will in­stead have to set­tle for a spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tion in the Sun­corp de­cider.

How­ever, Wal­ters be­lieves Thurston may yet have a change of heart with the injured Ma­roons ace say­ing last week: “If I got the call from the coach ( Wal­ters), I would prob­a­bly con­sider it ( an Ori­gin re­turn).”

Three leg­ends of the code have pre­vi­ously res­ur­rected their Ori­gin ca­reers.

In 2001, Langer re­turned from Eng­land to in­spire Queens­land’s se­ries win, while NSW greats Brad Fit­tler ( 2004) and An­drew Johns ( 2005) both came out of rep­re­sen­ta­tive re­tire­ment to help the Blues.

With Ma­roons half­back Cooper Cronk ex­pected to re­tire at sea­son’s end, Wal­ters is relishing the prospect of a Thurston come­back and urged North Queens­land to give him the green light.

“I hope the Cow­boys would sup­port ‘ JT’ play­ing again,” Wal­ters said.

“I doubt they would stop him un­less they have some sort of agree­ment, but Paul Green ( Cow­boys coach) is a smart fella and he is pas­sion­ate about Queens­land too.

“I won’t be shut­ting the door on him.

“We may not have Cooper Cronk next year so it would be a won­der­ful boost to have JT avail­able next year.

“If John wants one more sea­son with Queens­land, I will cer­tainly be pick­ing him.”

Thurston’s fi­nal con­tract with the Cow­boys con­tains no clauses pre­clud­ing him from play­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive foot­ball next year.

How­ever, when the par­ties met to fi­nalise the 12- month ex­ten­sion six weeks ago, there was an in­for­mal agree­ment that Thurston would not play for Queens­land or Aus­tralia in 2018.

“All our dis­cus­sions with Johnathan and his man­ager in re­gards to his con­tract for next year was done on the ba­sis he would not be play­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive foot­ball,” Cow­boys foot­ball op­er­a­tions chief Peter Parr said.

“At this point in time noth­ing has changed in re­gards to those con­ver­sa­tions.”

Johnathan Thurston.

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