Anthony Mundine has told The Locker Room Podcast that he believes he was a very similar player to Johnathan Thurston, but more explosive.
Mundine said “Thurston was very similar to me but way slower”. He went on to add “I think I had twin turbos. If he had twin turbos he’d be very similar to me”.
To be fair to Mundine, he was a very good ball runner in his day. Not quite at the level that Johnathan Thurston is at, but I would agree with him that in terms of raw explosive ability, he would probably go through the line running faster than Thurston. That kind of misses the point though…
Thurston’s ability to know when to run is pretty much second to none. His passing ability is so good that it makes his dummy and run lethal. While Thurston might not have the same speed as Mundine, he is far better at breaking the line simply because he is a better footballer, rather than being a better athlete.
In terms of the rest of their games, it isn’t really even close. Thurston is better at reading the game than Mundine was, better at passing and kicking, better at knowing what to do and when to do it, and Thurston is a far more consistent player than Mundine ever was.
It would be easy to start tearing into Mundine, but lets be fair to him, he was a pretty good player! He was a fringe State Of Origin player who, if he played in the current NSW Blues era, would have played many more State Of Origin games than the three he played back when players like Brad Fittler and Laurie Daley were running around.
Mundine was a different type of player to Johnathan Thurston. You could pick halves right now in the NRL who are more explosive than Thurston…but how many of those players would you chose in a big game over Thurston?
None of them.
Anthony Mundine would get more accolades for his Rugby League ability if he simply stated how good he actually was. You have to remember that Mundine left the game at a fairly young age when he turned to boxing. The extra years that Thurston has on Mundine at the time of Mundines departure from the game are significant. With experience, Mundine might have become more consistent and a better game manager, two areas Thurston has it all over him in.
Anyway, to see the Mundine interview check out The Locker Room Podcast. A lot of mainstream media sites picked up the Mundine quotes and failed to link to the podcast itself. So go and check them out!