IT may seem like he’s everywhere on the field when weaving his magic in front of the crowd, but Johnathan Thurston will be also in the stands during the Cowboys-Broncos Round 11 blockbuster at 1300SMILES Stadium on Friday night.
When Thurston leads his North Queensland Toyota Cowboys on to the hallowed turf in front of a sellout crowd, it will mark his 250th game for the club.
Thurston - who made his Cowboys debut against the same team on March 13, 2005 – will join club legend Matthew Bowen as members of the 250-game club, the milestone reached over 12 seasons, and incorporating the 2015 NRL Premiership.
To mark the special occasion, the Cowboys will hand out commemorative JT masks at all gates upon entry. Members and fans are urged to get to the ground as early as possible as mask numbers are limited.
Club officials are encouraging the crowd to get into to spirit of JT’s milestone match by donning the mask and making plenty of noise as the team looks to cement its place in the top four with a win over the Broncos.
Thurston’s team-mates Lachlan Coote and Ray Thompson hammed it up this week, posing for photos with the man-of-the-moment while brandishing the JT masks.
Cowboys head coach Paul Green paid tribute to Thurston’s contribution to the club where he was played the majority of his 278 NRL games.
“It’s a huge achievement for Johnno personally. He’s the sort of bloke that will go out of his way not to make it about him this week,” Green said.
The coach said Thurston continued to improve and was learning to ‘step back’ from games at different times.
“He’s managing games better at this point in his career,” he said.
Thurston said he was focused on helping his team play well against the Broncos, but admitted the looming milestone was an ‘exciting time’.
He added the club meant a lot to him and admitted Friday night would be a ‘proud occasion’.
“I arrived at the club as a kid really – 21/22 years of age – and no doubt the club’s been a big part of my life,” he said.
Thurston has scored 74 tries in the Cowboys jersey, while kicking 769 goals.
Gates for Friday’s game open at 5pm.
5.35pm: NYC Cowboys v NYC Broncos
7.55pm: Cowboys v Broncos
*This first appeared on cowboys.com.au