Sport

Thurston to live forever as immortal after Qld fightback

Johnathan Thurston of the Maroons prepares to kick the match winning conversion during State of Origin Game II between the NSW Blues and Queensland Maroons, at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday, June 21, 2017.
Johnathan Thurston of the Maroons prepares to kick the match winning conversion during State of Origin Game II between the NSW Blues and Queensland Maroons, at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. AAP Image / Dan Himbrechts

JOHNATHAN Thurston has written another crazy chapter into his phenomenal highlights reel with an ice-cold conversion from near the sideline in the dying minutes to seal a famous Queensland fightback.

Thurston slotted a conversion after Dane Gagai had locked the scores up at 16-16 with three minutes to play.

NSW had appeared all over Queensland for most of the contest, but in the blink of an eye, the Maroons pounced to snatch a memorable 18-16 win.

Johnathan Thurston nailed the stunning sideline conversion that every sports fan in Australia saw, but his truly iconic moment came much earlier in the game.

Thurston was trampled by Blues forward Wade Graham in the first half and stayed on the ground clutching his right shoulder.

He limped away from the tackle clutching at that shoulder and he was unable to lift it at all for the rest of the half.

Despite the entire NSW team clearly able to see him struggling to deal with the injury, Thurston stayed on the field knowing he would be targeted.

Andrew Johns declared Thurston's injury will needs surgery.

Mitchell Pearce of the Blues celebrates scoring a try during State of Origin Game II between the NSW Blues and Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday, June 21, 2017.
Mitchell Pearce of the Blues celebrates scoring a try during State of Origin Game II between the NSW Blues and Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. AAP / David Moir

Thurston was at the centre of Queensland's epic comeback and slotted the winning conversion in the 78th minute.
Now it is clear he did it while carrying a serious shoulder injury.

The veteran playmaker marked a triumphant return from injury for Queensland by kicking the late sideline conversion to seal a come from behind 18-16 State of Origin game two win in Sydney on Wednesday night.

It sealed another iconic moment for Thurston to rival his famous golden-point drop goal in the 2015 NRL grand final against Brisbane.

Having seen Thurston make 10 tackles with an injured shoulder, Blues legend Andrew Johns says he "couldn't believe what I was watching"

"His shoulder was absolutely buggered," Johns told Channel 9.

"You can see there, he cannot pick his right shoulder up. There's your game plan. You just go at him all night.

"I couldn't believe what I was watching. I think he'll be heading for an operation this week. There's no way he could continue, which speaks volumes for the way he played on."

Valentine Holmes of the Maroons, (centre), celebrates after scoring a try during State of Origin Game II between the NSW Blues and Queensland Maroons, at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday, June 21, 2017.
Valentine Holmes of the Maroons, (centre), celebrates after scoring a try during State of Origin Game II between the NSW Blues and Queensland Maroons, at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday, June 21, 2017.

NSW Origin legend Phil Gould says it creates an intriguing race against the clock to get Thurston fit for the series decider - expected to be Thurston's last ever Origin game.

"Game 3 is his last ever game in Queensland colours. I think he'll be there," Gould said.

The stage is now set for Queensland to send Maroons warrior Thurston out of Origin a winner in the July 12 decider at Suncorp Stadium.

But the jury is out on Thurston's fitness again after he aggravated a shoulder injury.

He is still hoping to play his 300th NRL game in North Queensland's Saturday night clash with Penrith.

NSW looked in sight of just their second series win since 2005 when they led 16-6 at halftime in front of an 82,259-strong crowd.

But the Maroons weren't to be denied, matching NSW's three tries - including a double by Queensland winger Dane Gagai - to send the series into a decider. The ageing Queensland side somehow remain on track for their 11th Origin triumph in 12 years.

 

Will Chambers of the Maroons (right) is tackled by James Maloney (right) and Andrew Fifita of the Blues during State of Origin Game II between the NSW Blues and Queensland Maroons, at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday, June 21, 2017.
Will Chambers of the Maroons (right) is tackled by James Maloney (right) and Andrew Fifita of the Blues during State of Origin Game II between the NSW Blues and Queensland Maroons, at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. AAP / Paul Miller

Queensland skipper Cameron Smith credited Thurston with the win.

"I can't think of anyone else you'd want to have a crack at that goal," he said.

"He's a warrior.

"I really don't know how he gets up for these matches."

It marked a fitting return for Maroons playmaker Thurston from a shoulder injury and fullback Billy Slater after he was controversially overlooked for Queensland's record 28-4 game one loss in Brisbane.

The once mighty Maroons were at an Origin crossroads after undergoing their biggest team shake-up in 15 years ahead of game two, making seven changes and naming four debutants.

Now they are on track to send off some of their biggest names as winners.

Thurston will bow out of Origin after game three while the Maroons future of the likes of Slater and halfback Cooper Cronk remains up in the air.

"Johnathan is a little bit busted up," Queensland coach Kevin Walters said.

"(But) this Queensland team, they've got so many champions in them, you always think you're a chance regardless of the scoreboard." NSW coach Laurie Daley claimed the Blues "weren't good enough" to land the killer blow.

"It's always difficult because you're never too far in front - Origin can swing pretty quickly," Daley said.

"With 15 (minutes) to go, I thought maybe we lost our way a little bit but we hung on and got through that danger period ... it was like tighten the seatbelts, we're in for a rocky ride and Queensland were good enough to score."

 Blues supporters celebrate a try during State of Origin Game II between the NSW Blues and Queensland Maroons, at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday, June 21, 2017.
Blues supporters celebrate a try during State of Origin Game II between the NSW Blues and Queensland Maroons, at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

Daley feared pre-match that Queensland's slow play the ball tactics would turn game two into wrestlemania but bit his tongue when asked about officials on Wednesday night.

"I'll get in trouble if I comment on referees, don't I?" Daley said. Queensland fortuitously drew first blood when debutant winger Valentine Holmes tip toed down the sideline to score in the ninth minute but from there it was one way traffic in the first half.

Centre Jarryd Hayne scored in the 14th minute, marking four pointer No.11 for NSW - equalling Michael O'Connor as NSW's leading Origin try scorer. The one-two punch of tries to winger Brett Morris (24th) and halfback Mitchell Pearce (27th) ensured NSW had all the momentum.

However, Gagai scored twice (53rd, 77th) before Thurston again broke Blues hearts in the dying minutes.

Topics:  editors picks state of origin

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