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Thurston takes out top RLPA award

There were no conspiracy theories anywhere to be seen as North Queensland superstar Johnathan Thurston capped a tumultuous week by collecting his second RLPA 'Players' Player' award in Sydney on Tuesday night.
Thurston takes out top RLPA award
by AAP

By Steve Jancetic

SYDNEY, Sept 17 AAP - There were no conspiracy theories anywhere to be seen as North Queensland superstar Johnathan Thurston capped a tumultuous week by collecting his second RLPA 'Players' Player' award in Sydney on Tuesday night.

Thurston edged out Todd Carney, Cameron Smith, Anthony Watmough and Sydney Roosters dual international Sonny-Bill Williams for the award, which is voted on in a 3-2-1 basis by opposition players each game.

The honour came on the same day Thurston was cleared by the NRL of any wrongdoing with regards to his bizarre rant, when he suggested there was a conspiracy against non-Sydney NRL clubs following the Cowboys' controversial final exit last weekend.

Thurston didn't return to Sydney to collect the award, instead recording a video message with three month old daughter Frankie Louise on his knee - with no mention of his team's unfortunate finals exit.

"A massive thank you to the players of the game," said Thurston, who first won the award in 2005.

"To be voted by your peers as the best, (there) is no higher honour in the game.

"I'm extremely humbled and it's a privilege to be voted by your peers so I just want to thank you all for that."

The NRL on Tuesday said Thurston had no case to answer, after he suggested there were forces at work against teams like the Cowboys, which came on the back of coach Neil Henry throwing up Sydney-centric conspiracy theories.

"While Queensland dominate at State of Origin level, NSW is crying out for something and they seem to be getting it," Thurston said on his arrival in Brisbane on Sunday.

The NRL reviewed the comments and declared that Thurston had been misinterpreted.

"At no stage was there a reference to the integrity of the officials," NRL head of football Todd Green berg said in a statement.

"I have spoken with both Johnathan and Cowboys CEO Peter Jourdain, who have each given an assurance that the comments were not directed at the administration or the officials." Thurston received support from Carney, the man who helped engineer the controversial seventh tackle try on Saturday night.

"It's unfortunate what happened, I feel for the Cowboys and Johnathan - rightly so he shouldn't be fined for those comments because it was the heat of the moment," Carney said.

"He's shattered. It's two years in a row for him - if I was in the same position I would have said the same thing."

Carney was one of a smattering of NRL stars to attend the RLPA's big night, which is gaining recognition amongst the NRL community.

South Sydney prop George Burgess - who attended the ceremony with brother Sam and mum Julie, was named rookie of the year, with Penrith's Bryce Cartwright - nephew of Panthers great John Cartwright - named player of the year in the national youth competition.

Kangaroos skipper Cameron Smith was named Australian representative player of the year and Issac Luke the New Zealand equivalent, while Penrith's Clint Newton - the general president of the RLPA - took away the Dennis Tutty Award for making a significant contribution to the players' association.




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