Johnathan Thurston revealed how bad his injury was. (Matt King/Getty Images)
Johnathan Thurston revealed how bad his injury was. (Matt King/Getty Images)

How close Thurston came to the end

JOHNATHAN Thurston looked at the doctor, his trademark smile gone.

"Just two more games,'' Thurston begged. "That is all I want. Just give me two more and that will do.''

But on the eve of his 300th NRL game last year, the rugby league legend was delivered the news that left him fearing his career was over.

"You may never pick up your girls again if you play,'' the doctor said. "That is how bad it is.''

The shoulder injury which robbed the Queensland superstar of a fitting State of Origin farewell resembled that of a "car crash'' victim.

In the digital medical images obtained exclusively by The Daily Telegraph, the shoulder tendon is retracted back several centimetres and the "whole thing was ripped off''.

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Thurston had to watch from the sidelines but it could’ve been worse. (Wesley Monts)
Thurston had to watch from the sidelines but it could’ve been worse. (Wesley Monts)

"The surgeon (Dr John Maguire) told me that it was one of the worst shoulders he had ever seen,'' Thurston said.

"And that it looked like I had been in a car crash. All three tendons that hold your shoulder together where damaged and one of them was severed through.''

Thurston broke down last year when he was told his record-breaking career was in doubt but tonight he will become just the 30th player in history to play 300 games when the Cowboys take on the Sharks.

"I was really looking forward to playing my 300th game,'' he said.

"And I was desperate to play the Origin decider. I reckon I could have walked away happy if I got those two games.

"I begged to play those games but they told me I would never be able to pick up my kids if I did. That is when it really hit home.''

A scan of Thurston’s shoulder should where his tendon should have been.
A scan of Thurston’s shoulder should where his tendon should have been.

Thurston was devastated when it sunk in that he would not be able to finish his Queensland career on his own terms.

"Yeah, I was a bit of a mess,'' Thurston said.

"I called my partner (Samantha) when I got in the car to tell her what happened and I couldn't even get out a word.''

Thurston injured his shoulder while tackling Tyson Frizell in the 15th minute of Origin II last year.

The four-time Dally M winner and future Immortal ignored 65 minutes of crippling pain to lead Queensland to a series-saving win, booting the matchwinning goal from the sideline.

"I went in hard (on Frizell) and there was heavy contact,'' he said. "I was in a bit of pain afterwards and I knew something was wrong.

"I lost a lot of movement in the arm and knew I was in some trouble.''

Thurston missed his milestone 300th match against the Panthers in round 16 and didn't play again all season, including another grand final with the Cowboys.

But after 258 days of doubt, pain and hard work, he will achieve the rare feat on Friday night.

"It is a big honour to join some of the game's greatest players on that list,'' Thurston said.

"I am not all that big on milestones and numbers but this one is pretty special.''

Everyone in the game is glad to see Thurston fit again. (Zak Simmond)
Everyone in the game is glad to see Thurston fit again. (Zak Simmond)

Now fully fit and ready to lead the Cowboys on another premiership charge, Thurston can see a silver lining.

"I got pretty low at times,'' Thurston. said. "But my girls (partner Samantha and daughters Frankie, 4, Charlie, 2, and Lillie, 11 months) were there to pick me up.

"And while it was tough being out, I got to spend a lot of time with them. I got some time with them that I would have never had. I was able to go to take them to the park, to dancing and to school.''

More importantly, he was able to pick them up and hold them in his arms.



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