Thurston is the key for Kangaroos: Parr - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Thurston is the key for Kangaroos: Parr

By Wayne Heming 09/11/2009 08:07:21 PM Comments (0)

North Queensland boss Peter Parr is tipping Johnathan Thurston to lift his game in Saturday's Four Nations final against England, saying the bitter memory of Australia's World Cup final loss will inspire the playmaker and the Kangaroos to victory.

As the Cowboys mull over a deal to keep Thurston playing rugby league in Townsville beyond 2010, Parr said he was looking forward to Thurston delivering again when it mattered most.

"He's got a pretty good track record," said Parr, conceding Thurston's form had been a little down in the Four Nations group matches, behind a forward pack which failed to dominate against the Kiwis or England.

"The forwards are the ones who have to aim up.

"Johnathan hasn't been at his dominating best, either has (Darren) Lockyer, but I wouldn't bet against them.

"JT is one guy you can rely on in big games. He's done it so many times at club, state and national level, you wouldn't back against him."

It was a touch of Thurston genius after his trademark "show and go" that set up fullback Billy Slater's match-turning try to give Queensland a hat-trick of Origin series' wins last year.

And in 2006 he pulled out a big play in extra time, setting up Darren Lockyer for the try that clinched Australia the Tri Nations.

But there was nothing the halfback could do to prevent Australia's shock 34-20 loss in last year's World Cup final to New Zealand.

Thurston took that defeat particularly badly, saying it was the low point of his career.

Parr suggested he'd be very keen to make amends for the result.

"He'll never get that back but I'm sure it will be in the back of his mind when he prepares for the final," Parr said.

"He's got a great strike rate at representative level and there's no doubt his teammates will feel very comfortable knowing he's wearing the No.7 jersey given his history in big games."

Thurston comes off contract at the end of next season and Parr's priority is to put together a package good enough to keep the champion halfback at the Cowboys in the face of NRL raids and offers from cashed-up overseas rugby union clubs.

Both Thurston and Lockyer have contract deals to sort out when they come back from the tour.

"I don't think anyone doubts Darren will re-sign (with the Broncos)," Parr said.

"What it proves is with your marquee players is how complex contracts have become and how long they take to work out.

"We're not expecting any quick fix with Johnathan and you'd suggest a fairly lengthy process."

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