No one will break Queensland captain Cameron Smith’s record for most State of Origin games, Johnathan Thurston says.
Maroons playmaker Thurston is Origin’s ironman, playing 34 straight games since his 2005 game one debut.
And he has not ruled out extending his representative career beyond the 2017 World Cup.
However, 33-year-old Thurston believes his skipper’s remarkable achievement will never be eclipsed.
Smith will run out for his 37th Origin in Wednesday night’s series opener in Sydney.
The inspirational Maroons hooker will surpass Queensland great Darren Lockyer’s 36 game mark.
And Smith, 32, is believed to be keen to play on until 2018, putting him on track to become the first person to shatter the 40-game barrier in Origin.
No wonder Thurston reckons Smith’s final Origin tally will be one for the ages.
Asked if he could break Smith’s record, Thurston said: “No way.
“He is a few out in front of me – I can’t see anyone breaking that record.
“It’s incredible what he has been able to achieve probably at the toughest position.
“The fact he is sitting on the top of the tree speaks volumes about his drive, his passion and the type of character he is.
“He’s our leader, our captain and I am extremely proud of him.”
Thurston will break a tie with Maroons prop Petero Civoniceva and equal fellow Queensland legend Allan Langer (34 games) as the third most capped player in Origin history on Wednesday night.
And if he plays every match this year he will equal Lockyer’s mark, just behind Smith.
Yet Thurston could not conceive a shot at Smith’s record tally even after toying with the idea of leaving the representative door open after 2017.
Thurston had initially claimed he would walk away from representative football after the 2017 World Cup and concentrate on his beloved NRL club North Queensland.
“I can go on (with Queensland after 2017) but at this stage it is about getting to the World Cup final, that’s my goal,” he said.
“We will reassess from there.
“There is a lot of footy to be played up to then.”
Meanwhile, Thurston said the hip injury he had carried into the Origin camp was no longer a concern and he would begin contact training on Sunday.