STATUE OF ORIGIN
Push to head off plans for Brisbane JT tribute
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.