Thurston backs stand-alone Origins
State of Origin has become so brutal that it is ridiculous to ask players to back up in the NRL, Queensland ironman Johnathan Thurston says.
The Maroons’ playmaker has joined the push for stand-alone interstate games after witnessing first hand the carnage caused by the series opener – a game considered one of the most ferocious in Origin history.
“I have never been part of such a brutal game before in Origin,” said the 31-year-old Thurston who has played a record 28 straight games for Queensland.
“It was one of the fastest as well.
“And to back up for your club a few days later … it’s borderline ridiculous.”
Thurston said he prided himself on backing up after Origin for his NRL club North Queensland – but had no idea why he had to do it.
“I know the boys pride themselves on backing up for their club – I do personally,” he said.
“It has been passed down by guys like Locky (Darren Lockyer), having pride in your performance after an Origin.
“But I just don’t know why we have to do it.
“We have the powerbrokers in the game. Surely we can come up with a better system.”
Thurston said the savage game-one exchange, won 12-8 by NSW, might have set a new Origin standard but believed it would soon become the norm.
“You saw the brutality in game one and I don’t see it letting up any time soon,” he said.
“The damage will be done when the boys back up. Fatigue is when injuries happen – hopefully we find another solution.”
Master coach Wayne Bennett believes he has found one.
He has contacted NRL head of football Todd Greenberg about a proposal to rest Origin players from club duties and play three interstate games in four weeks in June next year.
Under Bennett’s plan, 22-man squads would be named for each state for the series.
Queensland great Gorden Tallis told Fox Sports he feared Bennett’s plan might also be a gruelling assignment for players and back-to-back Origin games could lower the showcase event’s standard.
But Thurston backed Bennett’s plan, saying it would not just benefit players.
“I totally agree with it,” he said.
“I have also read crowd numbers are down at this time of year; TV ratings are down.
“I think club footy will benefit from it.
“It creates more interest for fans when club footy comes around again and I am sure crowds will bounce back again.
“Why we are still pushing for it (change), I don’t know why.”