BEST OF ENEMIES: JOHNATHAN THURSTON

Like every other club in the NRL, the Warriors have regularly been on the wrong end of Johnathan Thurston’s brilliance. Arguably the greatest player of all time, ‘JT’ has racked up a swag of points, an eye-watering tally of try-assists and 17 of a possible 45 Dally M votes at the Warriors’ expense during his phenomenal reign in North Queensland.

JOHNATHAN THURSTON – CAREER RECORD v WARRIORS
Canterbury (2002-04): 3 games (won 2, lost 1) – 0 points
North Queensland (2005-18): 17 games (won 10, lost 7) – 4 tries, 57 goals (130 points)
TOTAL: 20 games (won 12, lost 8) – 4 tries, 57 goals (130 points)

Thurston played against the Warriors three times during his fledgling tenure with the Bulldogs, coming off the bench in his fourth NRL appearance in 2002 as the New Zealand outfit snapped the blue-and-whites’ 17-match winning streak.

The precocious playmaker started in the Bulldogs’ No.7 for just the third and final time in a 54-10 thrashing of the embattled Warriors in the last round of 2014.

Thurston left the premiers for North Queensland in 2005 and was man of the match in a 32-22 victory over the Warriors in Round 3.

Winning a second Dally M Medal in 2007, Thurston missed out on votes in the Cowboys’ two clashes with the Warriors, but he notched a try in a 20-point loss at Mount Smart and booted seven from seven in a 49-12 semi-final victory in Townsville.

‘JT’ scooped the three Dally M points in both games against the Warriors in 2008 – a 48-20 win at home and a 24-14 loss in Auckland – and was adjudged best on ground again when the clubs met in 2009, scoring a try and five goals in a 34-12 road win.

He was the Cowboys’ best in a losing effort in 2010 and enjoyed the major Dally M spoils in a 30-10 victory at home in 2011, dotting down for one of his team’s seven tries.

Thurston booted eight goals for just the third time in his career in a 52-12 Townsville drubbing of the Warriors in late-2012, but the champion half endured his third straight Mount Smart defeat early in 2013.

After a rare home loss to the Warriors in 2014, Thurston enjoyed two victories over the Auckland-based club in 2015, including a 50-16 landslide at Mount Smart that saw the Cowboys’ talisman collect a try, seven goals and two Dally M points – helping him to a record fourth Medal.

Thurston earned another two Dally M votes in a 34-6 Cowboys success late in 2016, but a long-term shoulder injury saw him miss their sole clash with the Warriors in 2017.

Set to retire at the end of this year, Thurston made the trek to Mount Smart Stadium for the last time in his decorated career as one of the main attractions in the historic Round 5 double-header. It wasn’t a happy visit, however, with the physical Warriors blotting him out in a 22-12 result that continued the Cowboys’ rugged start to 2018 that hasn’t yet abated.

The Cowboys are playing for their season in Round 15 when they host the top-four Warriors – and unless his side can go on a massive tear to scrape into the playoffs, this will be his last encounter with the New Zealanders.

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