Johnathan Thurston at training ahead of his last home game in Townsville. Picture: Zak Simmonds
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NRL almost lost Thurston to rival code


Johnathan Thurston has revealed he nearly made the switch to rugby in 2010.Source:AAP

RETIREMENT-BOUND NRL superstar Johnathan Thurston has revealed how close he came to signing a lucrative overseas rugby union deal.

Ahead of his final home game for his beloved North Queensland, Thurston admitted he was tempted by big money deals from rugby clubs in Japan and France during a turbulent time in his career in 2010.

But “unfinished business” helped keep him in Townsville to focus on winning the Cowboys’ maiden NRL title — a feat they achieved in 2015.

Thurston said he had no regrets before running out at Townsville’s 1300SMILES Stadium for the last time in Friday night’s NRL clash with Parramatta — a game that looks set to decide the wooden spoon.

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The Test and Origin great said the rugby offers in late 2010 came at a difficult time for him.

That period included an arrest in Brisbane for public nuisance.

Johnathan Thurston at training ahead of his last home game in Townsville. Picture: Zak Simmonds

Johnathan Thurston at training ahead of his last home game in Townsville. Picture: Zak SimmondsSource:News Corp Australia

“It has been a long journey,” Thurston said.

“I have had offers from rugby, from other clubs, big money (rugby) offers … from Japan and France.

“That came at a time in my life that was pretty rough here.

“But I love living in Townsville, in north Queensland. And at those times there was unfinished business for me.

“I always wanted to bring a premiership to North Queensland so to be able to do that is probably the best memory I have got wearing the North Queensland jersey.”

Besides Thurston’s Townsville farewell, the Eels clash will also be co-captain Matt Scott’s 250th NRL game and No.100 for hooker Jake Granville.

But Thurston said it would not be hard to keep emotions in check on Friday night.

“We have got enough experienced blokes here to make sure we keep a lid on it,” he said.

“Matty will become the first forward to play 250 games for the club which is a massive milestone and it’s Jakey’s 100th game — it will be a good night.

“For me, I am just enjoying what is left. It’s only a couple of weeks left. I am just trying to savour the moments I have left with them.”

Thurston tried to keep his emotions in check with media on Tuesday and admitted the “competitive streak” was still firing.

However the future Immortal reckoned he would be hanging up the boots for good after the Cowboys’ final match away to Gold Coast next week, ruling out a last hurrah in the 2019 All Stars clash.

Next year the revamped All Stars concept will feature an indigenous side taking on New Zealand Maori.

“I am done and dusted mate. Next Saturday will be my last game,” he said.

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