Queensland’s hopes of sealing next month’s State of Origin decider have taken a massive hit with play-maker Johnathan Thurston ruled out for the rest of the NRL season.
Thurston’s NRL team, the North Queensland Cowboys, confirmed that the Origin and Kangaroos legend will undergo shoulder surgery, ending his State of Origin career and ruling him out for the rest of the NRL season and Australia’s World Cup campaign.
Thurston, who has played 37 games for the Maroons – including a record 36 games straight – had earlier announced that Game 3 would be his final appearance in Queensland colours.
The bombshell of Thurston’s news came as another Maroons veteran Darius Boyd confirmed he would also miss Origin’s Game 3 with a broken thumb – part of a long list of Queensland casualties from this week’s bruising encounter.
Thurston played through Origin II win to kick the winning conversion in the Maroons’ 18-16 win over New South Wales in Sydney on Wednesday, after re-injuring his right shoulder in a tackle on Blues forward Tyson Frizell.
Thurston told a press conference in Townsville he had originally thought the injury was just a cork, before scans on Thursday revealed the worst.
“The news isn’t good,” Thurston said.
“And the best decision for myself and the club is to get the op done.
“I thought I might have been able to pump one or two more games out.
“But the medical advice I’ve been given is that if I wanted to live a normal life after football, then I had to have the surgery.”
The six-month recovery period will also kill Thurston’s plans of playing in this year’s World Cup, and present coach Mal Meninga the dilemma of finding a new five-eighth for the cup defence in October.
But Thurston added he would have no second thoughts on his decision to retire from representative football.
“It’s a decision that I’ve made,” he said.
“I wanted to finish on a high this year with representative football. I’m comfortable with that decision I’ve made to retire from rep football.”
Boyd underwent scans on his thumb on Thursday and is expected to have surgery that will rule him out for six weeks.
Meanwhile, Maroons teammates, Cameron Smith, Boyd Cordner, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater will all miss this weekend’s NRL action after suffering injuries in Game 2.