NRL World Pays Tribute To 'Future Immortal' Johnathan Thurston
"We are so proud of you".
The rugby league world is paying tribute to Johnathan Thurston, after the Cowboys, Queensland and Australia legend hung up the boots for the last time on Saturday night.
It was a fitting finish to his career as Thurston steered his North Queensland team to a come-from-behind victory against the Gold Coast Titans. The Cowboys had trailed and looked out of the game, before the halfback delivered his team victory with a trademark chip kick leading to the winning try late in the match.
Thurston, aged 35, has achieved just about every accolade in the game -- NRL premiership, four Dally M medals as the game's best player, a World Cup win, 11 State of Origin series wins -- and is rightly being hailed as the "next Immortal", the greatest honour in rugby league's hall of fame.
On Saturday, in his final game, a Townsville home crowd showered gratitude on the player, with his team-mates running onto the field in his trademark coloured headgear and a guard of honour welcoming him to the ground.
Countless players, media personalities and fans have paid tribute to the retiring Cowboys star.
Penrith Panthers boss and rugby league veteran Phil Gould said Thurston would surely be named an immortal of the game, but said the player's feats may be surpassed by what he does in retirement.
Thurston has been a campaigner and supporter for numerous community programs including Indigenous initiatives. In addition to his football achievements, he has been awarded the Australian Human Rights Commission Medal, has been named Queenslander of the Year and has been nominated for Australian of the Year.
"He is one of the highest pinnacle sports people in Australia," Gould said on Channel Nine on Saturday.
"His greatest is yet to come. He will be greater in retirement than in his football career."