Death and taxes used to be life’s two certainties.
Now its seems there are two more – field goals decide North Queensland-Brisbane NRL derbies and nothing will stop Johnathan Thurston from playing State of Origin.
Thurston is on track to play a record 34th straight Origin game for Queensland on June 1 after dismissing hip injury concerns in the wake of a third consecutive derby decided by one point.
Thurston copped a heavy hit from potential Maroons teammate Josh McGuire before dusting himself off to boot a 75th-minute field goal that sealed North Queensland’s stunning 19-18 win over Brisbane in Townsville on Friday night.
It marked the third straight derby with a one-point difference, including the Cowboys’ triumphant 2015 grand final result, which was also decided by Thurston’s boot.
And it capped a dream 250th game for North Queensland by Thurston.
Yet Cowboys co-captain Thurston appeared troubled by McGuire’s heavy contact by fulltime, sounding alarm bells for Queensland coach Kevin Walters who was working as a sideline commentator at a sold out 1300SMILES Stadium.
Thurston later gave himself the all clear ahead of Walters’ Maroons 17 Tuesday night announcement for the Origin series opener in Sydney.
“I have got a bit of a cork there, so I should be fine,” Thurston said.
“Moose (McGuire) got me good there.
“It hurt, but it won’t keep me out.”
Thurston showed why he had won a record four Dally M Medals by quickly regaining his composure after the McGuire hit to break Broncos hearts by nailing his sole attempt at a match-winning field goal on Friday night.
During the frantic final moments Anthony Milford inexplicably shanked a field goal shot just 15m in front before his Brisbane halves partner Ben Hunt sprayed a 40m attempt wide.
Thurston played down his effort, saying they had simply learned their lesson from last round’s 15-14 loss to Melbourne.
He also tried not to get sentimental about his landmark game.
“I remember my first game for the Cowboys back in 2005 against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium when they bashed us up,” he said.
“There have been some tough times and good times between those games.”
He did admit NRL Queensland derbies were now officially epic.
“The fans are certainly getting their money’s worth,” he said.
Cowboys coach Paul Green agreed.
“It’s unbelievable. Three one-point games the last three times we have played,” he said.
“I am not sure rivalry is the right word – it’s becoming a pattern.”