At the time she was in a relationship with another man, and he didn’t appreciate the NRL player trying to pick up his girlfriend.
In an extract from his new autobiography, Johnathan Thurston: The Autobiography, published by News Corp, the 35-year-old said he was smitten from the start, but it wasn’t until Lynch joined the Cowboys as a sponsorship manager that the two began getting closer.
Thurston began doing more corporate and sponsorship work for the Cowboys, and in particular for Toyota – one of Lynch’s accounts.
“As part of that deal I had to visit Toyota dealers around North Queensland, and more often than not Sam would accompany me on those trips. We spent a lot of time together and became good friends,” he wrote.
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Despite this, its wasn’t until a “hook up” on a Cowboys sponsorship trip that they started finally dating, albeit, strictly in secret.
“We were having a few drinks the night before and it just ended up happening.
“Sam had planned to go back to her room in the early hours of the morning but we had slept through the alarm. We ended up being late to the shopping centre visit but our secret was safe.
“There was no awkwardness following the encounter, and our friendship became stronger.”
They continued their relationship in hotel rooms, not wanting to run the risk of getting caught near Thurston’s busy Townsville unit.
“I spent a bloody fortune over the next few months. We booked rooms all over Townsville — and eventually Magnetic Island too — as we met in secret,” Thurston wrote.
Explaining his reasons for the secrecy, the former Cowboys co-captain said Townsville was a “bloody small place” and they wanted avoid being spotted by someone they knew. And then one day, they decided to confess their relationship to Peter Parr – the club’s football director.