Johnathan Thurston has slammed the Emerging Maroons players who copped 12 month State of Origin bans, saying they disrespected the Queensland jersey.
And Thurston said the banned players would be kicking themselves with a changing of the guard looming for the ageing Queensland side.
Thurston threw his weight behind embattled Maroons coach Kevin Walters who banned eight players after they broke curfew at the recent Emerging Origin camp in Brisbane.
Valentine Holmes and Cameron Munster were initially suspended when news first broke of the controversy.
Days later another six – Ben Hunt, Anthony Milford, Jarrod Wallace, Edrick Lee, Dylan Napa and Chris Grevsmuhl – copped bans when the Queensland Rugby League finally completed their probe.
Thurston may be preparing for North Queensland’s weekend World Club Challenge clash with Leeds in England but the Maroons playmaker did not hold back when asked about Walters’ call.
“A little bit disappointed (by players’ actions) but I fully support Kevvie’s decision to ban them for 12 months,” the three-time Golden Boot winner told Omnisport in Manchester.
“We’ve created something special there and I think they’ve disrespected that jersey.
“I back Kevvie’s decision and what he has done 100 per cent.
“They’ll learn from it and I’m sure when the next camp rolls around, the boys won’t be making those decisions again.”
Walters will this year take over from Mal Meninga who led Queensland to nine series wins in 10 years.
“It will be tough for them sitting on the sidelines and watching,” Thurston said of the banned players.
“They’re the next generation of that Queensland jersey.
“They’ve disrespected it and Kevvie’s made them pay, so they’ll find it tough being on the sidelines because all of them are pretty close to playing Origin footy.
“There’s a lot of the boys in that team that are on the wrong side of 30, so there’ll be a changing of the guard over the next couple of years and those boys will be disappointed that they’ll have to watch from the sidelines.”