Smith gives Thurston 'every chance' for Origin opener


Johnathan Thurston still has every chance of contesting the State of Origin opener against New South Wales Blues, Queensland Maroons captain Cameron Smith has said.

Thurston has been sidelined by a shoulder injury sustained in Australia's Anzac Test win over New Zealand last month.

The North Queensland Cowboys half-back has been named as the Maroons' 18th man for next Wednesday's series opener at Suncorp Stadium, with Anthony Milford and Cooper Cronk selected in the halves.

But Smith did not rule out Thurston playing in a 37th consecutive Origin match for Queensland, saying: "I give him every chance, to be honest.

"Even though he's named as 18th man, I give him every chance.

"I've played in three or four representative matches where 'JT' has been in doubt and he's got up every time.

"He's such a resilient person... it's like he challenges himself to get back and be right for the game. You've got to be tough to play 36 consecutive Origins.

"At this stage it's highly unlikely but I think he's shown in the past that if there's a challenge involved, he's up for it.

"He's going to be given every chance... [head coach] Kevvie [Walters] has already told us that. He'll be given until kick-off to be right."

Asked if Thurston could play without having a single training run, Smith replied: "Of course he is [good enough]. He's the best player in the game. He hasn't got there on luck. He's one of the most experienced players at this level.

"He came into the [Anzac] Test without playing for four weeks and he was one of the best players on the field. We'd be very confident with him on the park.

"We're all accustomed to him being out there. But Anthony is a fantastic player. He's been knocking on the door for a few years now."