So here we are. We have finally come to the end of another NRL season and another Supercoach campaign. It has been a year that’s seen more downs than ups for a lot of us and if you’re like me, you have that contradiction of emotions: you’re glad it’s over, but you’re sad to see it go.
More importantly than that though, we find ourselves saying goodbye to a huge number of NRL gladiators, as they hang up the boots at the culmination of the 2018 season. Names like Jason Nightingale, Jacob Lillyman, Antonio Winterstein, Peter Wallace, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Sam Thaiday, Chris Heighington, Beau Scott, Ryan Hoffman, Luke Lewis, Simon Mannering, and Billy Slater have already announced their plans to walk away from the game, with Tigers duo Robbie Farah and Benji Marshall to possibly join them. It makes up the most amazing and decorated class of retirees ever to leave our game. That list holds seven 300-game players and will leave a massive hole to fill in our nostalgia.
However, the biggest name of them all is our man, Johnathan Thurston. JT debuted in the 2002 season, and in his first year at the Cowboys in 2005, he took the club to their maiden grand final appearance and captured his first Dally M. He finally calls it a day on the coast this Saturday afternoon after 323 NRL games, 37 State of Origins and 11 series wins, 38 Tests, 6 All-Stars matches, 4 Dally M’s, 3 Golden Boots, 2 NRL premierships, countless other personal or professional accolades, numerous burns on Nathan Hindmarsh and 1 infectious laugh. You can just hear it can’t you?
Unlike other prominent halves, JT was just as dominant on the Supercoach front. I’ve only got the stats from 2010 but since then he averaged a personal best 82 points during the 2014 season, had three other seasons over 70 points per game, and four more of 60 or above. He had a top score of 138 which came in round 22 of the 2013 season against Penrith. He also had 130+ scores against Brisbane from 2010 as well as Canberra, Sydney and Gold Coast all in the 2014 season. All up, he scored over 100 an astonishing 32 times, adding 15 x 90+ scores and another 14 x 80+ scores. That’s 61 games from 2010 until now in which the great man has had a “captain worthy” score, including last weekend’s 90 on Parramatta. And he still has 1 more to go.
For the last time in 2018, I’ll try to find you a decent captain options so you can finish the year on a high. On top of that, I’ll sprinkle in some JT trivia along the way as we farewell a future immortal. #putyourheadgearout
David Nofoaluma – Previous Score – 77 – 2018 Points to Position – 9 – 3 Rd P2P – 12
I’m glad I picked up Nofo when I did. He’s quietly put together a very solid run of games to be on a 3RA of 69. The Rabbitohs have been letting in some good CTW scores recently too, with Cotric (76), Oldfield (78), Oates (120), Latrell (52) and JAC (101) all putting up points. Now, full disclosure, all of those guys are left side players, whereas Nofo plays right side and will be lining up across from GI and Hunt. But I still like him due to his history vs Souths. He played them twice in 2014 for scores of 31 and 30, but since then he’s gone 70, 83, 73, 109, 67 and 61 from round 19 this year.
The Wests Tigers, led by that iconic duo I mentioned earlier, ultimately stole JT’s fairytale finish in his NQ Cowboys debut season, as they put on a show in the grand final to run out premiers by a score of 30-16 (that Benji flick pass). It also stopped Thurston from winning back-to-back premierships, albeit at different clubs. That season put Thurston on the map as an NRL halfback, and he won his first Dally M.
Shaun Johnson – Previous Score – 112 – 2018 Points to Position – 9 – 3 Rd P2P – 4
Guess who’s back. Back again. How good is SJ to watch when he’s playing like he did on Friday evening. And when he’s up and about like that, the Warriors are nearly unstoppable. That game boosted his 3RA to 87 with another favourable matchup to finish the year on. The Raiders have given ARey (56), Cronk (41), Brooks (48), Cleary (88) and Hughes (51) a run of decent knocks, while also allowing 25.6 points in the last 5 rounds. They have been better this past 2 weeks, restricting the Chooks and Bunnies to 12 each though. Johnson has been good against Canberra historically with score of 129, 129 (yes, a repeat), 52, 70 and 85 before easing off with 41 and 35 over the last two seasons.
JT debuted for Australia in 2006, and then eventually led the team to a tri-nations grand final win against New Zealand. The scores were locked at 12 apiece as regular time expired and headed to golden point extra time. With the game in the 2nd half of extra time, Thurston pulled out his patented show-and-go to break open the Kiwi defence and set Darren Lockyer up for the 16-12 series-winning try.
Cam Munster – Previous Score – 68 – 2018 Points to Position – 6 – 3 Rd P2P – 4
Munster needed every one of the 29 points he got from scoring that try against the Gold Coast last weekend just to make his total respectable. I’m not sure what’s happened to him or to Melbourne but they’re just playing like busteds at the moment. I’m hoping he can shake out of it in this final game to produce something special against the Panthers, who are also playing terribly. They have given opposing 5/8’s Lino (62), Ponga (42), Elgey (57), Sezer (30) and Dylan Walker (29) fairly average scores, but in all honesty, they’re hardly superstars 5/8’s (Ponga is a superstar but not 5/8). Munster has also struggled vs them in the past with scores of just 49, 49 and 52 on them. He hasn’t played them since 2016 though and not this side who are so poor.
The 215 season was arguably Thurston’s greatest ever, and he brought the best of it out against the Storm. NQ were trailing 16-4 at halftime of round 4 and after 3 losses to start the year, their season appeared to be over. Enter Johnathan Thurston. The Cowboys fought back and a try got them within 3 points of the Storm with 2 ½ minutes left. Thurston slotted the conversion from the sideline and then iced a field goal from 25 metres out with just 40 seconds left to send the game into extra time. Then he nailed another in golden point and sent NQ on an 11-game winning streak on the way to a grand final berth.
Tohu Harris – Previous Score – 77 – 2018 Points to Position – 1 – 3 Rd P2P – 2
If you’re VC-ing Nofo or one of the Bunny boys then you could do worse than backing them up with Tohu. He didn’t miss a beat in his return match with a very handy 77 point game. The knees look ok. And so does his matchup. 2nd rowers love playing the Raiders. My captain last weekend was Angus Crichton and he busted out a no try/no try assist 91 point game. The week before Victor Radley had 87 and in round 22 Michael Chee-Kam and Matthew Eisenhuth both cracked 70 for the Tigers. And Tohu had 74 in round 3, adding to the great scores against Canberra this year. He’s also had 129, 58, 76, 41 and 37 in his years with Melbourne.
In a side featuring the likes of peak Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Paul Gallen, and Jarryd Hayne, JT stood out as the game’s best in the 2013 RL World Cup grand final. He set up Australia’s first try and created 2 line breaks that led to tries. He also kicked 7 goals from 7 attempts to help Australia bury New Zealand 34-2 and claim man-of-the-match honours.
Andrew Fifita – Previous Score – 84 – 2018 Points to Position – 2 – 3 Rd P2P – 5
Fifi is bringing back the mongrel. He added an 84 to go along with his very angry 74 from the week prior, only this time he did it without scoring a try or setting one up or pointing aggressively at the coaches box. It was all Fifi base, by which I mean offloads and chest-palming tackle breaks included. He also had 75 on the Dogs when the 2 sides met in round 11 and they have continued to give up plenty of points to front rowers (see Leeson AhMau’s 80 last weekend). I’m a bit concerned what this salary cap scandal might mean for the Sharks on field performance, and whether there’s substance to it or just Buzz’s own personal revenge, but while they’re in with a sniff of the top 4, Fifi should be solid.
Does everyone remember the controversial 7th tackle try? The Cowboys were knocked out in the first week of the 2013 NRL finals by the Cronulla Sharks after serial pest, Beau Ryan, scored a try on the seventh tackle to make the end result 20-18 in favour of the Sharks. Thurston (god love him) later claimed there was an NRL conspiracy to ensure there was an all Sydney grand final.
Jake Trbojevic – Previous Score – 76 – 2018 Points to Position – 2 – 3 Rd P2P – 1
How about these Turbo boys? Jake is on a 3RA of 84 and 5RA of 75 and is still the lesser of the 2 when it comes to scoring lately. These guys are going to be Supercoach staples in our teams for years to come. I saw Carlos, in his Buy, Sell, Hold article, mention that Jurbo needs to score above 62 in order to average 70 for the season. Well I’m telling you now, it will be done. He had 114 on the Broncos in round 10 this year, and they still give up points. Cordner and Liu had 72 and 58 on them (in a loss). Crichton and Sutton both scored over 50 the week prior and before that, Gav Cooper and Lolo notched up 69 and 95 respectively. Even go back another week where Josh Jackson and Rhyse Martin had 92 and 87. There’s so many points available to the big name 2nd rowers. Jake will easily eclipse 62.
Thurston scored 63 Supercoach points during his round 12 match of 2010 against the Manly Sea Eagles. And with it came another classic JT spray. He was found guilty of swearing at the referee 8 times regarding a forward pass decision against the Cowboys which helped Manly win 24-20.
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James Tedesco – Previous Score – 85 – 2018 Points to Position – 8 – 3 Rd P2P – 11
Teddy is another who is on a bit of a tear lately with a 5RA of 76. Even last week, I was watching his game and he wasn’t doing much at all, and then all of a sudden, he’s over 80 again. The Chooks are playing the Eels this weekend, who have nothing left to play for after all but securing the wooden spoon (they need to win plus a Manly loss and both by very big margins). Meanwhile, Sydney are still in with a chance for the minor premiership if results fall their way so they’ll be primed to but up a big score and that’s what Teddy has always done to them. He has past games of 74, 95, 72, 33, 70 and 114 against Parramatta, who also just gave Ben Hampton a 100 point game in JT’s final ever home game. *wipes tear*
A 21 year old JT claimed his first premiership in 2004 when the Bulldogs beat the Roosters 16-13. He came in as 18th man for injured captain Steve Price, and famously gave his premiership ring to his captain following the game. A true class act. He joined the Cowboys the following year and the rest is history. What could have been, hey Bulldogs fans?
Valentine Holmes – Previous Score – 131 – 2018 Points to Position – 6 – 3 Rd P2P – 9
The hottest man in the game right now. Val is the one who got away for many of us. He’s this years version of 2014 Jarryd Hayne or 2015 Semi Radradra. I miss that big Fijian. But back to Val. He keeps getting it done with another monster score against my Knights. It jumps his 5RA to 91 with a lowest score of 71. Crazy consistent. And I know the Dogs just shut Dufty out of the game, but RTS and Turbo both went off on the Dogs the 2 weeks before for 85 and 111. Val hasn’t had the scores previously but I don’t read too much into it as this is his breakout year. He’s on fire so just keep riding it.
Thurston played his 100th club match for North Queensland in round 17 of the 2009 season, against the Cronulla Sharks. The Cowboys won the match 24-4 win at Dairy Farmers Stadium. Coincidently, he also played his 300th NRL game against the Sharks in round 1 this season. He scored 54 Supercoach points and led the Cowboys to a 20-14 win in front of the home fans.
Tom Trbojevic – Previous Score – 54 – 2018 Points to Position – 9 – 3 Rd P2P – 8
Actually Turbo has the highest 3 and 5RA’s in Supercoach at the moment but mostly due to the 194 masterpiece. Tommy scored 54 last weekend which is his lowest score from his last 5 weeks. We know exactly what Turbo can do, but this pick is more about what fullbacks do to the Broncos. The past 5 games have seen them rack it up. I just mentioned Teddy above, but there was also Gagai (93), TMM (34), Hoppa (68) and Val (85). And 3 of those were in wins (and not the 3 you probably think). For whatever reason (Catfish?) the Bronx struggle with the men at the back, and Turbo is one of the best of them.
I’m cheating a bit here to talk about his Origin feats, but Turbo debuted this year so I’ll run with it. JT was instrumental in Qld’s State of Origin dynasty, but his best performance came in Game 1 of the 2010 series. Thurston set up 3 tries (1 courtesy of a 1-on-1 strip of NSW fullback Kurt Gidley) and kicked 4 goals in Queensland’s 28-24 victory. JT was named man-of-the-match and his individual performance led to ex-players from both sides of the border comparing it to that of Andrew Johns in 2005. He was also met with headlines referring to him as being Queensland’s Greatest Halfback. They weren’t wrong.
Johnathan Thurston ♥
Previous Score – 90 – 2018 Points to Position – 1 – 3 Rd P2P – 2
I’ve saved the very best, for last. There’s no avoid section this week. Just a JT special in the last game of an illustrious career. The absolute cherry on top of his amazing career is a game against the Titans. A game that’s set up for JT to go out a winner. Yes, I know the Coast have been playing super well (and sidenote, I am loving AJ Brimson at the moment), but Thurston has bullied the NRL’s youngest side. He has scores in recent years of 78, 128, 86, 49, 130 and 46 on them. The 78 was in round 7 this year, when he had supposedly “lost it”. Then the past few halfbacks to play the Titans have scored 39, 65, 75, 48 and 65. So not only does the master destroy them, halfbacks this year also destroy them.
On 4 October 2015, Thurston cemented his legacy by living out his dream. It was made all the sweeter due to beating his fiercest rivals, the Broncos, in an all Queensland affair. After missing a conversion on the siren that would have stolen the game, JT stepped up to slot a field goal and deliver the North Queensland Cowboys their maiden premiership, He’d already won his fourth Dally M Medal that year and he added the Clive Churchill Medal for man-of-the-match in the Cowboys 17-16 win.
At this point I need a certified miracle in order to end up on a respectable rank, so I will leave it to the Gods (CP13 and Martin). I wish, I WISH, I had Thurston to throw the hail Mary on but as it went, I took a different path. For VC, I think I’ll put it on SJ and hope he can replicate his game last weekend with Tohu on his hip. If that fails, I’m going with Turbo to bring me home strongly.
Well there you have it. That’s it for another year. It has been a mammoth year on a lot of fronts for me, and I truly enjoy writing this and interacting with the NRLSCTalk community. So, thank you to everyone reading, commenting, arguing, tweeting etc etc etc each and every week. Thank you to Matt Hawker and his amazing website, nrlsupercoachstats.com, without which I’d just be doing a bunch of drunken rambling. And thanks once again to the NRLSCTalk team, who continue to support addicts like myself in doing this. Finally, thank you to Johnathan Thurston. You always produced something special, something that would have us wondering how on earth you did it. The game was better with you in it. You will be missed. #putyourheadgearout
As always, you can ask me any follow-ups in the comments below and hopefully I’ll be able to help some more. Good luck.