As Johnathan Thurston nears his retirement next weekend, the NRL star is set to go down in Australian history as one of our greatest rugby league players.
For years, Thurston has been known for his commitment to charity work in the Indigenous community, as well as his work as the face of a number of brands including Toyota and head gear company Madison.
But if it wasn’t for wife Samantha, Thurston may never have built the legacy he has today.
Over a decade ago in 2007, while the couple were just friends, Samantha told Thurston “you need to clean your act up”.
Samantha, who worked as the sponsorship manager for the North Queensland Cowboys at the time, drilled into Thurston the importance of engaging regularly with both sponsors and fans to build a long term legacy.
“Long term you need a legacy, your character will be your legacy, that’s what people will remember,” she reportedly told him.
Oh what a night ✨Thanks North Queensland members & fans for making my final home game so memorable; I’ll miss you all! Thanks to my team mates; I couldn’t think of a better group of blokes to share the occasion with. Thanks to the @nqcowboys I will be forever grateful! Thank you @slynchpin & my beautiful girls…..what a journey!
And Samantha’s advice paid off – Thurston is now said to be one of the highest paid NRL players.
Through his consistent work with Queensland Indigenous communities as well as Indigenous education, he was also awarded the Australian Human Rights Medal last year.
Thurston and Samantha share three daughters, Frankie, Charlie and Lillie.
Over the weekend, a sellout 25,000-strong crowd attended the NRL star’s final game in Townsville.
“For me, I am enjoying what is left. It’s only a couple of weeks left. I am just trying to savour the moments I have left with them,” Thurston told Fox Sports Australia.
The four-time Dally M Player of the Year winner is set to play his final game of NRL for the Cowboys on Saturday against the Titans on the Gold Coast.
Thurston’s autobiography will be released on October 15, 2018.