Rugby league greats Darren Lockyer and Gorden Tallis believe Johnathan Thurston has secured his Immortal status come what may in Sunday’s NRL grand final.
Thurston surpassed Andrew Johns as the most prolific Dally M medallist in history on Monday night and now Lockyer and Tallis say it’s inevitable the champion halfback will join the Newcastle legend in the game’s most exclusive club.
Lockyer and Tallis insist it’s ridiculous to suggest Thurston needs to guide North Queensland to a maiden premiership before becoming the game’s ninth Immortal
“It would be hard to say he wouldn’t become one. Four Dally Ms, you know, and he just keeps coming up with the goods every week,” Lockyer told AAP.
“He just keeps backing it up. He’s a legend.”
Lockyer himself has been earmarked as a future Immortal after achieving everything the game has to offer.
But the retired Brisbane, Queensland and Australian captain would have no qualms with Thurston beating him to the punch.
“No one would ever disagree with Johnathan Thurston becoming an Immortal,” he said.
After coming off the bench as a 21-year-old in Canterbury’s 16-13 grand final victory over the Sydney Roosters in 2004, Thurston is desperate to play a lead role in a Cowboys premiership triumph against Brisbane at ANZ Stadium.
Tallis is adamant the dual Golden Boot recipient and nine-times State of Origin series winner has already accomplished enough to join Johns, Arthur Beetson, Wally Lewis, Graeme Langlands, Reg Gasnier, Johnny Raper, Bob Fulton and Clive Churchill as an Immortal.
“Yes he should be an Immortal,” Tallis said.
“I don’t need to elaborate on it and everybody knows.
“Johnathan Thurston has already won a grand final. He was a big part of it.
“How many rings do you need to say you’ve won a grand final?
“How many rings do you need to show that you’re married?
“So he’s a grand final winner. You don’t need 10 to say you’re a grand final winner.”
Tallis says the profound influence Thurston has as a role model on budding young stars and fans only enhances the playmaker’s case.
“He needs to be an Immortal for giving his headgear away for 20 weeks at halftime and fulltime and picking up the kicking tee and signing autographs,” he said.
“Take away his playing achievements, what he’s done for the game is inspire kids to play the game. He’s inspired probably a whole nation of kids.”