Superstar halfback Johnathan Thurston reached out to his crestfallen counterpart after Ben Hunt’s extra-time blunder gifted North Queensland the field goal winner in Sunday’s drama-charged NRL grand final.
Hunt had earned comparisons with Brisbane great Allan Langer pre-match but ended the game in despair after knocking on the golden-point kick-off.
Less than a set later, Thurston kicked Hunt while he was down, nailing the drop goal in the Cowboys’ historic 17-16 triumph at ANZ Stadium.
While Thurston claimed the spoils, including the Clive Churchill Medal as man of the match, Hunt buried his head in the turf, almost in tears.
But the Cowboys co-captain didn’t forget his Queensland State of Origin teammate in their contrasting moments of agony and ecstasy after the match.
“I told him to hold his head up high. He’s had an outstanding couple of years and he’ll be a great player for years to come,” Thurston said.
“He’s been with us in camp and I know what he’s made of, he’ll come back better and I just wanted to make sure he didn’t feel the world on his shoulders for that error.”
The Broncos also rallied around their shattered playmaker, with retiring skipper Justin Hodges insisting Hunt was the reason his team made the grand final.
“It’s not Ben Hunt’s fault,” Hodges said.
“Ben thought he cost us the game but without Benny we wouldn’t be here today.
“I don’t blame anyone. What happens, happens.”