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Thurston at home in Queensland's No.6

The last time Johnathan Thurston was at Suncorp Stadium for a State of Origin decider he finished the game in a wheelchair.
Thurston at home in Queensland's No.6
by NRL

By Laine Clark

BRISBANE, July 5 AAP - The last time Johnathan Thurston was at Suncorp Stadium for a State of Origin decider he finished the game in a wheelchair.

Twelve months later he endured a burden that could have also proved crippling.

No one will fill the big shoes left behind by retired Maroons great Darren Lockyer.

Just as no one will ever don the Queensland No.6 jersey the same as Immortal Wally Lewis.

But it seems Thurston will also be a hard act to follow after overcoming his inner demons to make the Maroons five-eighth role his own.

Thurston wore the No.6 with distinction in a man-of-the-match display that sparked the Maroons' stirring 21-20 Origin III win at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.

However, before kick-off the halfback-come-pivot really was at sixes and sevens.

Under pressure after a quiet series to date, Thurston exorcised his demons by setting up a try and scoring another in a match that equalled Gary Larson's record for consecutive Origins (24).

Thurston finally dropped his guard in the dressing room after the thrilling win sealed by Cooper Cronk's 40m, 75th minute field goal.

"It's tough jumping into those boots," a drained Thurston said.

"It is one of, if not the most, historic jersey in Queensland history.

"I don't play like Wally. I don't play like Locky. I play like myself and that's what I try to do.

"I was pretty disappointed with game two, the way I played.

"I was looking to do my bit for the team and I feel I did that."

And how - the only player to have figured in all of Queensland's seven straight series triumphs finally looked at home in the No.6 jersey in a display that received Lockyer's blessing post-match.

Twelve months earlier Thurston - nursing a knee injury - was wheelchair-bound when he received a Lockyer cuddle after helping send the retiring Queensland legend out a winner.

"No doubt there was a lot of pressure but this team has got a great sense of self belief, like a big family," Thurston said.

"I am proud and honoured to be a part of it.

"There's bit of relief, it is hard to explain.

"And having family here and at home watching, it was pretty emotional."

Thurston racked up his fourth man of the match display in Origin but his halves partner Cronk was the name on everyone's lips after the game.

"People don't give NSW enough credit, they came back at us," Thurston said.

"Thank god for Cooper.

"This game will go down as a classic in history."




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