Johnathan Thurston nearly left North Queensland Cowboys for Penrith Panthers

Rugby union may have tempted Johnathan Thurston but Peter Parr only ever feared North Queensland would lose their prized playmaker when NRL rivals Penrith came “hard” in 2013.

Ahead of his final home game for North Queensland on Friday, retirement-bound Thurston dropped the bombshell that back in 2010 he was tempted by lucrative rugby offers from clubs in France and Japan.

Cowboys football director Parr says he never believed believe Thurston would change codes because he felt rugby wouldn’t satisfy him.

However, Parr – the man who lured Thurston from Canterbury to North Queensland back in 2005 – was genuinely concerned his champion signing would walk when the Panthers came knocking five years ago.

“When push came to shove I didn’t think he would go to rugby union,” Parr told AAP.

“I didn’t think that would satisfy his competitive streak.

“The closest I thought he might have gone was when Penrith went after him hard.

“I was concerned then that the pulling power of the Panthers and Gus Gould and his friends might have got him over the line.

“We ended up winning that battle thankfully.”

Parr said 35-year-old Thurston may have extended his career if he had switched to rugby.

“He could have gone for a lot more money and played a lot less games in a competition that was a lot less physical and potentially could have played longer,” Parr said.

“But he has been very loyal.”

Parr hoped the Cowboys would reward Thurston with a home farewell to remember on Friday night.

Dead-last North Queensland are desperate to send out Thurston a winner and avoid the wooden spoon, giving an extra edge to making Friday’s clash with second-last Parramatta at 1300 Smiles Stadium.

But Parr said Thurston’s 17-season career would not be defined by their disappointing season finish.

“It’s been an incredible journey and career. What will be will be, but it won’t take away what he has achieved,” he said.

“For everything that he has done for the club and region there is no way whatever happens … it won’t define his career.

“We will ensure we give him the best send off, the way he deserves.”

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