Johnathan Thurston is out for the season. Reports are emerging that the North Queensland Cowboys and Queensland star is to have shoulder surgery. Anyone who saw him in State of Origin on Wednesday night running round like a chook with a broken wing would understand why.
This means the champion playmaker will miss the Cowboys premiership campaign -- and you'd have to think they'd be rudderless and no serious threat without him -- as well as State of Origin III in Brisbane, the match which will determine the winner of the 2017 series.
He will also miss the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, which takes place after the NRL grand final at venues in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
The deciding Origin match was going to be Thurston's 38th and final Origin game, but it now appears the 34-year-old has played his last match for Queensland. He announced in January that 2017 would be his final year of representative footy.
He also remains one match short of his 300th NRL game.
This is a blow both to lovers of rugby league and the Origin series. Thurston is one of those people who's impossible to hate, no matter your sporting allegiance.
For Queensland, he is invaluable. When he missed Game I in Brisbane this year, Queensland were walloped. In Game II, as mentioned, he was not even close to fit, yet somehow, like a one-armed traffic cop, he steered Queensland to victory.
Blues great-turned-commentator Andrew Johns was furious that New South Wales didn't run at Thurston's clearly injured shoulder -- a tactic which, while hardly sportsmanlike, would surely have paid attacking dividends for the Blues.
Thurston also kicked Queensland's three goals from our wide too with that trademark inswing -- and in the end, a single goal was the difference in Queensland's 18-16 victory.
Thurston's loss will be felt. The Maroons won't miss him quite as much as the Cowboys will, such is their depth of stars. But whether Queensland can win without him in Brisbane is now certain to be the main talking point of the lead-up to Game III.
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