Push to head off plans for Bris­bane JT tribute

Townsville Bulletin - - WATER WORLD SECTION - CHRIS MCMA­HON chris. mcma­hon@ news. com. au

NORTH Queens­land Cow­boys fans will never for­get Johnathan Thurston’s pre­mier­ship- win­ning field goal in 2015 ( right).

But a plan to cap­ture the man and the mo­ment in bronze out­side the city’s new sta­dium could be stopped by a push to recog­nise the Ma­roons leg­end with a sim­i­lar tribute at Bris­bane’s Sun­corp Sta­dium. Lo­cal lead­ers are call­ing on the State Gov­ern­ment to back the North Queens­land push to have a statue un­veiled in 2020.

TOWNSVILLE is jostling with Bris­bane to se­cure back­ing for a statue of Johnathan Thurston to be un­veiled out­side the new CBD sta­dium.

Queens­land Rugby League has con­firmed there is “spec­u­la­tion” about plans to com­mis­sion a tribute to the Queens­land leg­end for place­ment among stat­ues of other State of Ori­gin greats out­side Bris­bane’s Sun­corp Sta­dium.

Thurston’s Ori­gin ca­reer was cut short by a shoul­der in­jury but he was the star of a mov­ing tribute to his con­tri­bu­tion to Queens­land rugby league be­fore Wed­nes­day night’s de­cider in Bris­bane.

Townsville is push­ing to have a statue un­veiled when its sta­dium opens in 2020, af­ter Thurston’s ca­reer ends fol­low­ing the 2018 NRL sea­son. In 2012, Ma­roons great Dar­ren Lockyer had his bronze statue un­veiled, just months af­ter he re­tired at the end of 2011.

Pre­mier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk con­firmed the State Gov­ern­ment was con­sid­er­ing how best to hon­our “JT”.

“Johnathan Thurston is a cham­pion both on and off the field. He has con­trib­uted as much to the game of rugby league as any im­mor­tal over his ca­reer so far,” she said.

“We are con­sid­er­ing how to best hon­our his im­mea­sur­able con­tri­bu­tion to our state and will work … with the Cow­boys, the QRL and of course Johnathan and his fam­ily.”

If the Sun­corp Sta­dium plan went ahead, it would likely de­lay or cruel plans for a sim­i­lar tribute in Townsville.

Townsville MP Scott Ste­wart said he be­gan lob­by­ing the Pre­mier and Sports Min­is­ter Mick de Brenni for a statue in Townsville 12 months ago.

He said it was ap­pro­pri­ate the en­trance to the Townsville sta­dium be adorned with a statue to the sport­ing leg­end.

“It’s a great way of ac­knowl­edg­ing … not only what he’s done on the field, but what he’s brought to the com­mu­nity and his work with kids, par­tic­u­larly indige­nous kids,” he said.

A spokesman said the QRL had not been of­fi­cially ap­proached re­gard­ing a statue.

“We’re aware of the spec­u­la­tion and cer­tainly un­der­stand the push, given JT’s enor­mous con­tri­bu­tion to the game, but at this point we haven’t been con­sulted,” he said. “Pre­vi­ous projects have been driven by the State Gov­ern­ment in con­junc­tion with a sup­port­ing part­ner venue.”

North Queens­land Cow­boys gen­eral man­ager of foot­ball Pe­ter Parr said no one was more de­serv­ing of a statue.

“I don’t think there is any­one who rep­re­sents North Queens­land on a na­tional stage bet­ter than Johnathan, there is no doubt ( a statue) would be ap­pro­pri­ate,” he said.

“Our club would sup­port that, if the peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for mak­ing those de­ci­sions thought it was some­thing that should hap­pen.”

He said it would also be a great hon­our if Thurston had a statue un­veiled at Sun­corp to cel­e­brate his Ori­gin ca­reer.

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