Cameron Smith is hoping Johnathan Thurston finally breaks through to lead North Queensland to their maiden NRL premiership.
Thurston’s North Queensland qualified for their second grand final since their inaugural season in 1995 on Saturday night with a 32-12 win over Smith’s Melbourne at AAMI Park.
Thurston is widely considered one of the game’s modern greats given his performances for Queensland and Australia and week-to-week efforts in the NRL.
But he has been dogged by the perception his career will be incomplete until he leads the Cowboys to a premiership.
He now has that chance and his Maroons and Kangaroos teammate Smith hopes he can inspire a win over Brisbane in the the 2015 decider.
“I mentioned to a few of the guys in that Cowboys team after the game I was really happy for them to make the grand final,” Smith said.
“It would have been nice for us to be there but I was really happy for them.
“They have been playing the game for a long time now and have never been there apart from ’05.
“I think for all the great things Jono has done in the game and the quality of the player he is, he plays with an enormous amount of pressure.
“Pressure comes from you guys saying he has to win a premiership to prove himself but as far as I’m concerned he is one of the greatest players in the game.
“But it would be nice for him to win the grand final and to have that feeling as number seven.”
Thurston played off the bench for Canterbury in the 2004 grand final but made only seven appearances for the Bulldogs that year.
He then featured in the decider the following year in the Cowboys’ first grand final, a loss to Wests Tigers.
“To win one as their co-captain would be a pretty special thing for him,” Smith said.