• Owens Opinion: JT and Retirement (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Now’s the time of the year for some of the older and more experienced players to really shine, but Johnathan Thurston’s played one year too many, says premiership-winning players and Over the Black Dot co-host Owen Craigie.
Owen Craigie

17 Jul 2018 - 4:06 PM  UPDATED 17 Jul 2018 - 4:06 PM

We're off the the back of NAIDOC Week and it was really great not only the rugby league community get involved, but Australia as a whole celebrating in full force.

To celebrate all of the great women in our communities was very special.

But we shouldn’t stop just because NAIDOC Week is over. We’ve got to keep going and keep growing because people are gonna learn that the next generation that comes through will be more educated and stronger and learn about Aboriginal culture.

Right across the country and across different nationalities, NIADOC is a time of celebration now.


JT's Farewell

On the topic of celebrations, we’ll soon be commemorating the career of Johnathan Thurston.

He’s done so much for the game and so much for Indigenous Australians, but on the field, he just isn’t what he used to be.

It’s been clear for much of this year and that Thurston’s played a year too long. 

He is one of those halves where his body’s taken so many massive knocks over the last 15 years, at representative level and club level, and it’s taken its toll. 

Full credit to him, of course, he’s done so much and is gonna be an immortal. He’s one of the greatest halves of all time, but his time is up.

Over the last month or two of football, to see him injury free and to finish the year on a high and his last game with a win, that would be great.

The Cowboys can’t make the finals but if he can go out with a few wins at the end of the season and be injury free, I think that’s a big bonus for him.

In terms of whether he should have made the call to retire earlier, it’s a very hard decision for any player to get right.


When's the right time for retirement? 

For me, I retired at 26. People debut at 24 or 26.

But when you’re mentally or physically burned out, there’s nothing much you can really offer anymore. Your body takes its toll and it’s very hard to force yourself out of bed at times.

No matter how good the medical staff and professional the system is, when your time’s up, your times up.

When your time’s up, your times up.

But then it gets a bit harder because one of the hardest things any professional athletes will have to do, is make that transition from pro athlete back to reality. That’s where a lot of them struggle, because they can’t fit back in, they don’t know how to.

For the Cowboys, playing with JT over the final month or so, I think they owe it to him to give him a couple of wins and send him out the way he should be sent out. And be really appreciative that they’ve played with a living Immortal.

We’ll honour Johnathan Thurston hopefully the way we should around the end of the season, but one of the more exciting things now, after having to say farewell, the most exciting thing is where’s the next Andrew Johns or the next JT?

What club is going to produce them and where are they going to come from? That’s so exciting.


End of Season Flair

It’ll be a great run towards the final in the NRL and I loved the weekend’s games.

Two games that really stood out for me were the Tigers performance and also Parramatta’s.

I know the Knights won, but the way Jarryd Hayne and Bevan French played for the Eels, Jarryd Hayne is slowly finding his form which is great to see.

They’re not gonna make the finals, but the transition back was gonna take time and he’s slowly finding his feet. He’ll get through this year and then I think next year there’s gonna be positive signs from Parra, certainly from what I saw the other night.

The way the Tigers played it was the old Robbie Farah and Benji Marshall show – gee it was great to see.

There’s a bit of life left in them and their skill level and the way they can play the game is above and beyond the average player.

This is the time of year when the older bulls really shine. They can read the game well, they’re very patient, they control the game.

The way they pass and kick and draw and pass is just top notch and Robbie Farah back at the Tigers Is great to see and Benji Marshall too, it’s something these younger kids can always remember and go ‘You know what, I saw one of the best sixes and nines in the game back together playing again, at Tigerland’.

That is something special too.


Owen Craigie is a Gamilaroi man and former NRL star. Owen has played for the Newcastle Knights, Wests Tigers and South Sydney Rabbitohs. He is co-host of NITV's weekly Rugby League panel program, Over The Black Dot.

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