His latest accolade cements these thoughts, having received the 2013 Rugby League Players Association "Most Valuable Player" award, this award is judged by the hardest critics in the game, his peers. Johnathon Thurston has the knack to stand the ball on end and changed a game in a heartbeat. It's the kind of skill you can't coach, just ask Neil Henry he will whole heartedly agree.
Thurston's stats by the age of thirty are above and beyond the norm, even for some of the best players to ever have donned the boots. One premiership and twenty seven State of Origin appearances, including the magnificent run of eight series in a row. Twenty-five times he has played for the Australian Kangaroos and four for the Indigenous All Stars. Including representative games Thurston has already amassed 269 first class games.
That is a hug feat considering he has just turned thirty and could easily have another four good years of football left in the tank. Although all of this is great, and he will no doubt be in many discussions during future Rugby League Immortal selections, Thurston may well leave a slightly bitter taste in the corner of some mouths that live outside of the North Queensland region.
We live in an age where 'sports' major competitor for children is not other sports, but IT (information technology). Computer gaming consoles and games have rocked the world of outdoor recreation and sports in general to the core. It's one of the reasons why we need great role models in our society that kids can look up to and be inspired to chase their dreams.
Johnathon Thurston has been an exceptional role model over the last few years, after some early hiccups that were played out in the media. Thurston has grown into a fine young man on and off the field. Just this year he signed a new kicking tee and after every conversion and a young member of the crowd was given the tee, also it's widely known that Thurston surrenders his signed headgear after each match to one very happy young fan.
Thurston has always found time for children and young supporters of the game and his child like laugh and larrikin ways lead me to think of him as Rugby Leagues very own "Peter Pan", inspiring children to find the fun in the game.
Unfortunately I must say personally I was greatly disappointed in Thurston's actions after the loss to the Cronulla Sharks last weekend. Sure they were robbed early in the game with a mistake from referees, who have paid dearly for their mistake. And yes this was on the exact anniversary of the infamous "hand of God" mistake they suffered the year before.
Many pundits and professional commentators alike have had a lot to say of what transpired in that game and they have every right to dissect the importance or lack of importance in the referring blunder. As much grievance that Thurston feels for being wronged by the NRL that he feels, the example he has set in my opinion has ruined so much of the hard work he had created earlier in the year.
In my opinion posing for the photo with the sign "We do not accept your apology" at the Townsville airport with young impressionable children, was in particular bad taste. One of the greatest lessons children can learn is to be humble in victory and humble in defeat.
As children growing up, we all have to learn how to lose at some stage, we must also learn how to carry ourselves when things have simply "not gone our way". Many young footballers in North Queensland will have been watching the response of Johnathon Thurston after the heartbreaking loss to the Sharks, and many will now have an excuse to "blow up" if they feel that things have not gone there way.
I hope in the upcoming off-season after Johnathon Thurston has won his 2013 World Cup with Australia, he takes the time to sit under a shady palm tree in the tropical north and reflect on his actions, and learn from what has transpired over the past 7 days. You're a champion Johnathon and even champions deserve room and time to grow.
Josh Hinds is a school chaplain on the Gold Coast, a family man and PSI's IT professional. Josh is an experienced writer on international sport.
Josh Hinds' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/joshua-hinds.html