Johnathan Thurston’s retirement plans could include plotting the downfall of the Maroons

JOHNATHAN Thurston’s retirement plans could include plotting the downfall of the Maroons with the Queensland great admitting he would be open to helping develop the next generation of playmakers south of the border.

The Blues’ great tormentor for more than a decade, Thurston will on Friday morning launch the Johnathan Thurston Academy in the lead-up to the testimonial match in conjunction with great mate Cameron Smith at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

The Academy is just one of a number of post-football projects Thurston has in the pipeline but the future Immortal did baulk at the suggestion of a move into full-time coaching.

More than just a production line for promising rugby league players, the Johnathan Thurston Academy is promising to provide an opportunity for young people to be successful through education, healthy living, employment and sport.

Destined to be a prominent and popular media figure once he stops playing, Thurston told that while full-time coaching doesn’t appeal he is open to working with clubs in a consultancy capacity, including promising halves coming through the ranks in New South Wales.

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The likes of Nathan Cleary, Mitchell Moses, Luke Brooks, Matt Moylan and Luke Keary would all benefit greatly from some one-on-one tuition with Thurston and the Maroons legend wouldn’t rule out giving them a helping hand.

“I would really think about it,” Thurston conceded.

As for what else lies beyond his extraordinary playing career, the 2018 Australian of the Year finalist is looking beyond the constraints of a football field but will maintain some connection with the game.

“I’ve got some other ideas,” Thurston said of the potential of joining the coaching ranks.

“Obviously I’ll stay involved with the Cowboys but not in a coaching capacity.

“At this stage that doesn’t really interest me.

“I could do some consultancy work with a club or two who have some young halves coming through but at this stage there’s not much of an interest in [coaching].”

Thurston’s first ‘consultancy’ assignment is likely to be later this year when he is expected to join the Queensland camp to help coach Kevin Walters usher in the successors to the Thurston-Cooper Cronk combination that has been so successful in recent years.

“It would be nice if Kevvie gave me the call,” Thurston said of having some involvement this year after retiring from representative football with 38 Tests for Australia and 37 Origins for Queensland to his name.

“He’s called me in the past and I’ve always given him my honest opinion about it so if he calls me again no doubt I will do that.

“There’s boys now that have had a taste of it that we know can do the job.

“Michael Morgan was great in the World Cup campaign playing at six. Obviously Cameron Munster had a go there at six and ‘Morgo’ led (the Cowboys) to the finals and took us to the grand final playing at halfback.

“Kevvie knows he can play either at five-eighth or halfback and he’ll do a job for us.

“We just need to start getting a bit of continuity in the team and no doubt whoever does get the nod for game one we will stick with the boys for the whole series.”

While Morgan and Munster would appear the frontrunners to take the reins from Thurston and Cronk, Walters said that there are a number of other contenders in position to push for selection for game one.

“No JT or Cooper in our halves this year so a great opportunity for some players to step up,” Walters told Fox Sports.

“Obviously we’ll be keeping a keen eye on the opening rounds of the premiership and that will really determine who gets the frontrunning I suppose.

“Guys like Michael Morgan, ‘DCE’ (Daly Cherry-Evans) from Manly, Ben Hunt, (Anthony) Milford, Cameron Munster is already there, Ash Taylor, Corey Norman.

“We’ve got some great talent coming through but it is going to be a big challenge for the players and the staff when Origin does come to get that right because we know how influential those two players have been for Queensland over the last 10 years.”