A trial game to remember as Johnathan Thurston can’t help but steal the show

It’s probably a cheap line to say it rained on their parade. But it rained on their parade. Absolutely hosed down, to be accurate.

Yet somewhere out there on Suncorp Stadium, amid the monsoonal rains that had the Storm and the storm drains working equally hard, Johnathan Thurston found a few moments of wonder to remind everyone that he remains head and shoulders above almost all of his modern peers.

North Queensland Cowboy’s took a 16-14 win over Melbourne Storm amid monsoonal-like rains in their NRL trial.

Penrith Panthers Head Coach has confirmed that Peter Wallace will continue in his role as captain through 2018.

Jarryd Hayne arrives at his first training session since re-joining the Parramatta Eels under the cloud of a civil lawsuit alleging he raped a woman in California. Vision: Seven News.

The rugby league star touches down at Tel Aviv airport amid allegations he raped a woman while playing for the San Francisco 49ers in 2015.

Australian rugby league “Immortal” Graeme Langlands has been charged with six counts of indecent dealing with a girl under 16. Vision: Seven News.

North Queensland Cowboy’s took a 16-14 win over Melbourne Storm amid monsoonal-like rains in their NRL trial.

The night was all about Thurston and Cameron Smith, the former celebrating his final year of rugby league and the latter trying to extend his seemingly iron grip over almost every level of the code. But it was JT who would steal the show from his great mate.

“He got us again,” Smith said after yet another last-gasp bit of heroics from the Cowboys general. “Usually we’re in the same team when he’s doing that sort of stuff.”

Even with the horrendous conditions, they came out to pay tribute as the pair of greats met for the final time at the famous rugby league cauldron. In reality, it was a pimped-out pre-season trial but about 25,000 fans grabbed the ponchos and answered the call.

Most Sydney clubs would dream of that turn-out for a meaningful NRL fixture and even with the wet ball, it wasn’t difficult to see why both teams are considered to be major forces for another premiership in 2018.

Both coaches rotated their big guns, others such as Kyle Feldt were sensational, and the Cowboys would eventually prevail 16-14 after a contest that had a far sharper edge than standard pre-season fare. Thurston was at its heart all night.

Feldt’s sensational one-handed grab over Josh Addo-Carr in the corner in the first half was the first of his three tries, with the final winning the match with a minute left on the clock. The man who delivered it into his hands with a bending banana kick? Who else but JT.

Thurston just couldn’t help himself from turning heads as he took another step in his return from the shoulder surgery that cut his 2017 in half. With a minute left on the clock before half-time, he drifted behind the ruck, demanded the ball and did it all on his own.

Big man Christian Welch wasn’t able to keep his footing as the champion playmaker made a subtle shift, then 19-year-old Storm hooker Harry Grant not only bought the famous dummy, he had it gift-wrapped and hand-delivered as Thurston dived over.

“It was pretty hectic out there, quite fast, we’re starting to get a bit more momentum. It’s always nice to get a meat pie. Still need to work on my defence though, getting shaken off a few times,” Thurston told Fox Sports as he departed for half-time.

He was right about the defence. Late in the contest, he was beaten near the line by Storm playmaker Billy Walters, who scooted past to score. Thurston has been a favourite target of edge runners for most of his career. This season, he can expect a flood of traffic, not a trickle.

Either Smith or Thurston was going to have the final say and Thurston did the damage. His kick founds its way to Feldt, who took another impressive grab to deliver victory to the North Queenslanders.

Smith even found himself getting some half-hearted boos as he lined up a kick at one stage, laughing them off before he booted it wide. But once the match was over, both men were able to reflect on their memories at a stadium that has housed so much of their shared history.

There were some injury concerns for both coaching departments. Young Melbourne fullback Jahrome Hughes dislocated his shoulder before it popped back in of its own accord. Still, scans will be needed to determine the damage.

And Cowboys centre Kane Linnett looked pessimistic about a pectoral injury that saw him leave the field in the first half and not return.

See Also : Taumalolo to be the first non‚ÄďAustralian to be immortalised

It was 2008 on a cold winter’s night. I was sitting in the 100-year-old stand (named after Keith Barnes the next year) with the new Roosters Recruitment Manager Peter O’Sullivan at Leichhardt Oval.

Although the youngest player on the field “this kid” was the biggest, but was still one of the fastest with exceptional leg speed and had the rare ability to step off both feet at pace

His name was Vaai (call me Jason) Taumalolo and was recruited by the North Queensland Cowboys at age 14 while playing for a New Zealand under 16s touring team.

It was no surprise that he went on to become the youngest ever player to debut for the Cowboys aged 17 years, two months and 21 days, when he came off the interchange bench against the Bulldogs. It was Round 24 and I mentioned in commentary to Peter Tunks on radio that this young Jason Taumalolo reminded me of the great Arthur Beetson as he would create a nightmare for defences.

Fast forward to the 2017 World Cup, and Jason Taumalolo, still only 24, is now established as the game’s best big forward.

Arthur Beetson and Johnny Raper are the only two forwards named in the current list of rugby league immortals; both played in a different era with different rules and with no analytics available and limited vision – so it is folly to even compare them with a modern day player.

Sonny Bill Willliams and Sam Burgess were the two highest-rated modern day big forwards in my system, and the media compared Taumalolo to the great SBW in 2012 when he was only 19 after he played 17 matches for the Cowboys, scoring five tries off the bench.

Sam Burgess is the stand out best English forward in the modern game, but even he was made look average when he clashed with an inspired Taumalolo while trying to win a place in the RLWC Final for Tonga against the Kangaroos.

England won the match, but Taumalolo won the contest against the great Englishman running 222 metres from 18 brutal runs.

Displaying a massive engine, he made 153 metres in the second half that almost created a huge upset for his beloved Mate Ma’a.

Taumalolo achieved 205 metres on average in his 26 NRL matches last season with Paul Gallen (183m), David Klemmer (167m) and Sea Eagle Martin Taupau (163m) the next best.

Taumalolo’s career really took off when Paul Green was appointed head coach at the Cowboys in 2014 and he made the call to make him a starting player in the top 13 at age 21. He was previously being used as an impact man off the bench, playing largely on the edge and often relegated to the Queensland Cup.

To start Taumalolo in the important position of lock forward (same position as John Raper) and play long minutes raised an eyebrow with pundits, but Green’s move was a master stroke which was to help bring home the club’s initial premiership the following season.

The wily former halfback knew he had a Rolls Royce and did not want to waste his ability to bust open a game by making big tackle numbers, which is typical for the prototype lock. He has the luxury of having tackling machines Ethan Lowe and Gavin Cooper on the edges and they also have been brilliant in covering the middle when possible.

Taumalolo averaged a respectable 28 tackles, but his job was to hit the ball up hard and execute a quick play the ball, and don’t worry about passing like an Artie Beetson would.

The coach knew that a big Taumalolo hit up and either Johnathan Thurston or Michael Morgan at first reviver would be a winning combination; it would be the worst nightmare for opposition coaches.

He does not have Raper’s cover defence and ball skills, or Beetson’s second phase play talent, but no player has ever dominated the middle like Tauamlolo has – and he is just getting started.

The argument as to who is the best big forward (hookers not included) ever to play the game is always good pub chatter, but statistically there is only one Jason Taumalolo. He stands alone at age 24.

See Also : Full list | The Chain

Rob Cook from Whitney in Oxfordshire, Simon from Nottingham, Glen Paul from Weymouth, Rob in Telford, Hugh Currie form Glasgow and Eric Webster in Denholm just within the Scottish Borders

Stu from Swindon, Sharon from Cambridge, Ben Hayley, Paul in Marlow, Simon from Twickenham, Rachel from Liverpool, Chris in Norfolk and Catherine from Wigan

Dave from Carmarthen, Gary from Cambridge and Al from Bradley Stoke AKA Nick from Bristol now of Chicago

Charlie in North East Lincolnshire, Caroline from Stockton-On-Tees, James Taylor from Chesterfield, Andy and Leigh at Newcastle University, Richard in Yorkshire, Pete from Weston Athletic Club and Paul Costelloe in Salford

Raymond in Edinburgh, Alec from Guilden Morden, South Cambridgeshire, Mark from Sunderland and David in Manchester

Joe in Jersey, Adam in Leek, Elvis from Mars, Pete Bartlett from Weston Athletic Club, Steve James from Newcastle, Rob in Telford

Sam from Tod, Scott from Kegworth, June in Hastings, David from Bedford, Sean in Kennington and Dominic in Leicester

Foxy in Leeds, Paul in Oxfordshire, Jason from Barrow in Furness, Chris in Cheddar, Darryl in Geddington and George from Bristol

Tim, 16.3 miles south of Edinburgh on the A68 heading home to a village near Oxton, about 20 miles south of Edinburgh near the Lammermuir Hills

Patrick in a school playground somewhere (picking his son up – not wandering in there absentmindedly)

Jill from Humberston, Chris from Bradford, Roisin in Lossiemouth(?), Peter in Devon, Kate in Toronto

someone who can’t be bothered to comment on his previous links so that he can be credited so he’s not getting credited now

Chris sitting quietly in his sweaty little van in a side street in Loughborough but he’s actually from Leicester

Jackie Ward, formerly of Ilkeston, Derbyshire, now Brinsley, Nottinghamshire, on holiday in Scotland at the time

It’s probably a cheap line to say it rained on their parade. But it rained on their parade. Absolutely hosed down, to be accurate.

Yet somewhere out there on Suncorp Stadium, amid the monsoonal rains that had the Storm and the storm drains working equally hard, Johnathan Thurston found a few moments of wonder to remind everyone that he remains head and shoulders above almost all of his modern peers.

North Queensland Cowboy’s took a 16-14 win over Melbourne Storm amid monsoonal-like rains in their NRL trial.

Penrith Panthers Head Coach has confirmed that Peter Wallace will continue in his role as captain through 2018.

Jarryd Hayne arrives at his first training session since re-joining the Parramatta Eels under the cloud of a civil lawsuit alleging he raped a woman in California. Vision: Seven News.

The rugby league star touches down at Tel Aviv airport amid allegations he raped a woman while playing for the San Francisco 49ers in 2015.

Australian rugby league “Immortal” Graeme Langlands has been charged with six counts of indecent dealing with a girl under 16. Vision: Seven News.

North Queensland Cowboy’s took a 16-14 win over Melbourne Storm amid monsoonal-like rains in their NRL trial.

The night was all about Thurston and Cameron Smith, the former celebrating his final year of rugby league and the latter trying to extend his seemingly iron grip over almost every level of the code. But it was JT who would steal the show from his great mate.

“He got us again,” Smith said after yet another last-gasp bit of heroics from the Cowboys general. “Usually we’re in the same team when he’s doing that sort of stuff.”

Even with the horrendous conditions, they came out to pay tribute as the pair of greats met for the final time at the famous rugby league cauldron. In reality, it was a pimped-out pre-season trial but about 25,000 fans grabbed the ponchos and answered the call.

Most Sydney clubs would dream of that turn-out for a meaningful NRL fixture and even with the wet ball, it wasn’t difficult to see why both teams are considered to be major forces for another premiership in 2018.

Both coaches rotated their big guns, others such as Kyle Feldt were sensational, and the Cowboys would eventually prevail 16-14 after a contest that had a far sharper edge than standard pre-season fare. Thurston was at its heart all night.

Feldt’s sensational one-handed grab over Josh Addo-Carr in the corner in the first half was the first of his three tries, with the final winning the match with a minute left on the clock. The man who delivered it into his hands with a bending banana kick? Who else but JT.

Thurston just couldn’t help himself from turning heads as he took another step in his return from the shoulder surgery that cut his 2017 in half. With a minute left on the clock before half-time, he drifted behind the ruck, demanded the ball and did it all on his own.

Big man Christian Welch wasn’t able to keep his footing as the champion playmaker made a subtle shift, then 19-year-old Storm hooker Harry Grant not only bought the famous dummy, he had it gift-wrapped and hand-delivered as Thurston dived over.

“It was pretty hectic out there, quite fast, we’re starting to get a bit more momentum. It’s always nice to get a meat pie. Still need to work on my defence though, getting shaken off a few times,” Thurston told Fox Sports as he departed for half-time.

He was right about the defence. Late in the contest, he was beaten near the line by Storm playmaker Billy Walters, who scooted past to score. Thurston has been a favourite target of edge runners for most of his career. This season, he can expect a flood of traffic, not a trickle.

Either Smith or Thurston was going to have the final say and Thurston did the damage. His kick founds its way to Feldt, who took another impressive grab to deliver victory to the North Queenslanders.

Smith even found himself getting some half-hearted boos as he lined up a kick at one stage, laughing them off before he booted it wide. But once the match was over, both men were able to reflect on their memories at a stadium that has housed so much of their shared history.

There were some injury concerns for both coaching departments. Young Melbourne fullback Jahrome Hughes dislocated his shoulder before it popped back in of its own accord. Still, scans will be needed to determine the damage.

And Cowboys centre Kane Linnett looked pessimistic about a pectoral injury that saw him leave the field in the first half and not return.

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