OPINION: Is Johnathan Thurston really the greatest ever?
MUCH debate is circulating in league circles right now about whether Johnathan Thurston is the greatest player of all time.
The best ever? It is an excellent conversation starter no doubt, and will continue to be for as long as the game is played.
Thurston certainly has claims to the title in my view.
Rugby League Week owns the Immortals concept which has seen eight players - Clive Churchill, Reg Gasnier, Johnny Raper, Graeme Langlands, Bob Fulton, Wally Lewis, Arthur Beetson and Andrew Johns - elevated to the loftiest status in the game.
I saw the tail end of Fulton and Beetson's career, most of The King's and all of Johns'.
They were all magnificent footballers, as was the legendary trio of Dragons and the Little Master himself.
Thurston is without doubt the most competitive player I have seen. He is everywhere on the football field, and always where the ball is.
I recall speaking to Cowboys football manager Peter Parr once and we both marvelled at how he seems to inspire his side to victories with sheer willpower.
Who would be your pick for the greatest league player ever?
This poll ended on 28 June 2016.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Last year's grand final was a case in point where in that final play in normal time he bumped off Adam Blair and Andrew McCullough, then ran backwards to find Michael Morgan who set up the match drawing try in the final second.
He then conjured the match winning field goal in golden point with the weight of the whole of North Queensland on his shoulders.
That was the biggest stage, but we have seen him do the same at club level on countless occasions.
Darren Lockyer has said that Origin football, with us for the past 36 years now, is the greatest test of a footballer's abilities.
Lewis dominated the first decade of Origin football, but Thurston, who will play his 34th consecutive Origin match on Wednesday, has owned the last decade.
His genius has been on show on so many occasions but I will not forget how, from inside his own quarter, he sliced through the Blues defence in Origin III in 2006 with Queensland trailing 14-4 and nine minutes to go. The resultant try to Brent Tate gave the Maroons the impetus to win the match and the series.
Without Thurston's show and go, which all sides know is coming but so often fail to stop, there would possibly be no Queensland dynasty.
With the 2008 series tied up at 1-all and the scores at 10-all in the decider, it was the Thurston show and go, telling dart and deft pass that put Billy Slater over for the match sealer.
Shoulder injuries should have kept him out of the 2010 series, but he revealed his toughness as well as his skill by playing a dominant role in the Maroons series win.
Thurston has not played for what we would consider a 'dynasty' club.
The Cowboys are not the Dragons of the 1950s and '60s or the Sea Eagles of the 1970s.
He has carried his side and done it with sheer class.
There is no doubt he will be a future Immortal at the very least and when you talk about the best ever, Thurston is without doubt a worthy candidate.
I present one final exhibit that showcases his remarkable kicking skills under pressure.
In round four of 2015 the Cowboys had lost their first three games and trailed the Storm 17-14 with 78 minutes on the clock.
JT lines up a sideline conversion and nails it.
A minute later he lands a field goal to send the game into golden point. Then he pots another field goal for the win to get the Cowboys on the board for the season and on the road to glory.
The man's genius knows no bounds.