Reports of Johnathan Thurston’s demise have been overstated according to North Queensland coach Paul Green, who readily concedes the club has been guilty of understating their love for the retiring playmaker.
Green defended Thurston’s season on Fox Sports’ NRL 360 program and then admitted the Cowboys needed to embrace the emotion of his final year in rugby league much more than they have.
“I don’t think he has been performing anywhere near as bad as what people have portrayed,” said Green of Thurston, who has struggled at times in a Cowboys side that is 3-6 this season.
“If you look at stats alone he is top ten in line break assists and try assists. By no means was he playing poorly at all.
“I think that has been overstated.”
Green said, like at a number of clubs in 2018 combinations haven’t completely clicked for the Cowboys.
While he wasn’t prepared to point the finger at anyone specifically letting Thurston down on the field, Green suggested he himself should carry the can for letting him down a bit off it.
“We’ve got one of the greatest players who has ever played the game and I don’t think we have probably paid enough attention to the emotional side of the fact that it is his last year,” Green admitted.
“As a team we need to probably embrace that a little bit more.”
“It’s probably something I have neglected to be honest.
“This is our last chance to be involved with one of the game’s greats, so let’s make sure for his sake and for our sake that we all enjoy it.”
Green said the Cowboys’ last up win over Penrith should act as a catalyst to give Thurston the kind of final year one of the game’s greatest deserves.
“I think last week was a little bit of a line in the sand moment … we said ‘ you know what, we are going to make sure he is going out on a good note’,” Green said.