Sunday, 1 July 2012
Former Queensland enforcer Gary Larson says Johnathan Thurston has earned the right to break his long-standing record for consecutive State of Origin games.
Thurston will draw level with Larson on 24 Origin games in Wednesday night's Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium.
He has played every interstate match since making his debut at halfback in the opening game of 2005 at the age of 22.
"I'm happy for JT to equal the record on Wednesday night and if he breaks it, that would be great stuff," Larson, who churned his way through 879 Origin tackles, told AAP on Sunday.
"I'm just glad a winger isn't getting it because they're under worked and overpaid."
Larson's record, earned after playing his 24 Origins consecutively from 1991-98, almost didn't happen with the former North Sydney Bear revealing he was about to be ruled out of a game in 1994 with a severely corked thigh that would have stopped most players taking the field.
The enormity of the feat isn't lost on North Queensland co-captain Thurston, who has done a good job staying under the radar heading into the series decider.
"It's obviously a huge honour," said Thurston who has made the switch from halfback to five-eighth this year to help Queensland through their post Darren Locker era.
"My first year was in 2005 and we lost that year when Joey (Andrew Johns) came back and tore us apart."
Ricky Stuart, the man who has put the confidence and belief back in the NSW side, was coach in 2005 when the Blues left a massive Suncorp Stadium crowd heartbroken.
"I've been lucky enough to play in every game since then. To be a part of this team has been great," said Thurston.
"I love everything about Origin, I love the concept, the build up to the games ... I think both coaches have done really well in pumping this game up in the media.
"It's going to be one of the best to go down I think."
The media were denied access to the Queensland players on Sunday however when Meninga - apparently annoyed at some of the treatment handed out by journalists - cancelled interviews with Thurston and Sam Thaiday and banned TV cameras and photographers from filming an opposed session against the Brisbane Residents side at Column.
Larson warned if Queensland's forwards didn't roll up their sleeves their record streak may be over.
"What NSW brought to the table last game (Sydney) is what they've been missing for a while," he said.
"They've got it right, they've got the right formula to back it up.
"We've had the formula and the lads who put on the jersey will want to rise to the occasion.
"That Maroon pride, spirit and passion is still there and someone will pull something magical out on the night."