Retiring NSW skipper Paul Gallen deserves a packed house at his final State of Origin game, Johnathan Thurston says.
But the Queensland playmaker says he feels no sympathy for prospective Blues pivots Jack Bird and Matt Moylan, promising a “tough initiation”.
Thurston may look forward to seeing the back of NSW warhorse Gallen, who will draw the curtain on a 24-game Origin career in Wednesday night’s Origin III in Sydney.
And it may be a dead rubber after Queensland sealed their 10th series win in 11 years.
But Thurston could feel for the departing captain following reports that 20,000 seats are still available at ANZ Stadium.
Thurston believes a sellout crowd would provide a fitting farewell for Gallen.
“It will be a shame if their captain runs out to 60,000,” Thurston said.
“He has played over 20 Origins for them.
“It would be sad I feel (if it was not a packed house).”
Thurston’s mood quickly changed when the subject of NSW’s five-eighth was brought up.
Cronulla’s Bird and Penrith’s Moylan are vying for the NSW No.6 jersey in a reshuffle after halfback Adam Reynolds succumbed to a shoulder injury.
Thurston said he expected Bird to start at pivot.
“It’s a tricky one for them but (Bird) is a bigger body and played that position before,” he said.
“Jack has been smashing it at Cronulla. His confidence will be high.
“His game two stint was a bit short but the time he was on there I thought he was good.
“Moylan is probably more of a ball player and Bird is more of a runner, they both bring different styles to the team.
“But whoever is there we will send traffic their way.”
Bird made his Blues debut in game two off the bench, while Moylan played the first two Origins at fullback.
Moylan may have been replaced by James Tedesco as NSW No.1 but he is back as a possible halves partner for James Maloney.
Moylan has never played five-eighth in the NRL, let alone Origin.
Thurston said it would be a risk to pitchfork Moylan into the Blues halves.
“Everyone knows Origin is a different beast,” he said.
“Defending in the front line, you have to make the right decision. Otherwise, a lot of points will be scored around you.
“But you can tell Jack is a confidence player, and that won’t worry him.”