Sta­dium must be the first to hon­our our JT

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION -

JOHNATHAN Thurston’s con­tri­bu­tion to rugby league will en­sure he is one day named one of the sport’s Im­mor­tals.

But his ef­forts in build­ing the suc­cess of the North Queens­land Cow­boys over the past decade or more have ar­guably been even more pro­found.

Queens­land power­bro­kers are rightly con­sid­er­ing how to prop­erly recog­nise JT’s ef­forts in the State of Ori­gin arena, with his con­tri­bu­tion vi­tal to the Ma­roons’ dom­i­nance of the NRL show­case dur­ing the past decade or more.

The last Queens­land leg­end of JT’s stature – Bron­cos and Aus­tralian cap­tain Dar­ren Lockyer – was only re­tired for six months when his statue was un­veiled at Sun­corp Sta­dium.

Given Townsville’s new CBD sta­dium is set to be open in March 2020, it is not un­rea­son­able to be­gin talk­ing about com­mis­sion­ing a statue for the North Queens­land hero this year.

Thurston’s Ori­gin ca­reer is over and he looks set to hang up the boots af­ter one more sea­son with the Cow­boys next year.

No­body would want to deny Thurston’s place among the all- time Ori­gin greats such as Wally Lewis, Arthur Beet­son, Mal Meninga and Lockyer, but it is ar­guable that rush­ing such a move in Bris­bane would likely de­lay or even stop such a tribute be­ing un­veiled in Townsville.

It is good to see Townsville lead­ers tak­ing up the fight to en­sure this hap­pens.

Most Cow­boys fans would agree that im­mor­tal­is­ing Thurston in bronze out­side the sta­dium he helped get built – with his fa­mous post- grand fi­nal speech in 2015 – would be ap­pro­pri­ate.

It would be fit­ting that the im­age cap­tured in bronze would be the now in­fa­mous drop- goal that sealed the Cow­boys’ his­toric pre­mier­ship, with the ball hor­i­zon­tal to the ground as Thurston’s boot swept through to wob­ble the kick over the cross­bar and send the 2015 squad into the his­tory books.

If the state backs the Townsville plan, it might mean a statue of an­other leg­end – Al­lan Langer – can fi­nally be made.

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