But Thurston’s leadership and unadulterated talent still hasn’t been enough for the club to finally snare their maiden National Rugby League title.
The club owes him everything. There is no two ways about it.
History shows that since Thurston headed to Townsville, the Cowboys have reached the Finals on five occasions. Yet there still hasn’t been a grand final appearance since Thurston’s first year at the club.
Fact: the Cowboys wouldn’t have seen September as nearly as much without their skipper.
Fact: In the clutch, for North Queensland, Thurston hasn’t been able to get his team over the line when it matters most.
And that’s what it’s about at the end of the day.
Almost 30, Thurston is reaching the back end of his career. The legendary pivot has been a mainstay for the all-conquering Queenslanders and the Kangaroos for as long as anyone can remember.
His stranglehold on Maroons and Australian jumpers is unquestioned.
But for how long does he continue playing rep footy?
Nobody is questioning what he has done for his beloved state and country. But the likes of Darren Lockyer and Andrew Johns have done something Thurston has not done. Lead their club side to glory.
Reports suggest the Cowboys will offer Thurston a $3 million deal.
Everybody knows Thurston is desperate to snare another premiership. Whether it’s in Townsville or in Sydney is anyone’s guess.
If he stays put in the north, is the club out of line if they asked their playmaker to step down from representative duties?
2013 might see the Cowboys finally end their drought.
But if they don’t and they go down in flames again, the curtain may come down on Thurston’s representative career.