North Queensland Cowboys v Parramatta Eels from 1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville. Cowboys Johnathan Thurston with daughters Frankie and Charlie. Picture: Zak Simmonds
North Queensland Cowboys v Parramatta Eels from 1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville. Cowboys Johnathan Thurston with daughters Frankie and Charlie. Picture: Zak Simmonds

JT keeping emotions in check before final farewell

IT'S easier said than done, but Johnathan Thurston is doing his best to distract himself from the fact just six days remain in his stellar career.

But after keeping their emotions in check to ensure the retiring legend's home swan song was memorable, the Cowboys are confident they can lift again on the Gold Coast on Saturday.

Thurston was front and back page news all week before his last game at 1300SMILES Stadium against Parramatta on Friday, and the danger was the hype could get the better of the team.

However they produced one of their best displays of a disappointing year to thrash Parramatta 44-6, virtually ensuring they will avoid the wooden spoon.

It also ensured Matt Scott, who became the first Cowboys forward to reach 250 games, and hooker Jake Granville (100 club games) had reason to celebrate.

Thurston said the enormity of the situation sunk in during his lap of honour after the game.

"I get a little bit emotional when I think about it (last game), I try not to think about it too much," Thurston said.

"Especially doing the walk around the field, it got the better of me there.

"The boys prepared extremely well for what was going on outside. I'm extremely proud of the boys."

The Cowboys wasted little time showing the stage wouldn't overwhelm them, piling on 32 unanswered points in the first half.

Coach Paul Green praised his team for shutting out the outside noise to focus on ensuring Thurston's goodbye was a happy one.

"There was plenty of reasons to let the emotions get the better of all of us," Green said.

"But I was really proud of the way they enjoyed it and didn't ignore what was going on around them, but did the most important thing and got the job done.

"The best way to show your respect for your teammates on a big occasion is to do your job really well."

Branded predictable at times this year, the Cowboys played some of their best attacking football of the season in the first half.

"It wasn't too hard (to keep the team focused), the boys reacted really well," Cowboys co-captain Matt Scott said.

"Sometimes you can get too caught up in the emotion of it, but the squad did well all week to embrace it.

"It really showed with the footy we played tonight. It was pretty free flowing, the type of footy we like to play that we haven't been able to too much this year.

"Certainly (there's) some frustration there, it's the type of footy we can play. We've got the players who can do it, I'm not too sure why we haven't been able to produce that more consistently this year.

"We've probably been too guilty of trying to stick to our structure too much and not playing football like we can do."



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