The Race To Sign Johnathan Thurston And The Risks Attached

The Penrith Panthers have been rumoured to be after him for nearly a year, and he has been photographed taking a tour of the Canterbury Bulldogs training facilities. At the end of all of this, Johnathan Thurston is expected to become the NRL’s first $1 million dollar a year player.

There is no doubt at all that Thurston is one of the top five players in the game today. Even on a bad day Thurston is one of the best halfbacks in the game. He is one of the the first players selected at State Of Origin level for Queensland and Test level for Australia.

I still have to question paying a 30 year old halfback $1 million dollars per year…

As I wrote a few days ago, there are only a handful of players in the game worth that sort of money. They are the type of players that don’t just perform on the field, they draw in fans and sponsors as well as generating interest from the media. There is no doubt Thurston is one of those players.

I’m not just thinking of what you get in 2014 out of Thurston though, I’m thinking about what you get by the end of his contract which is expected to be 3-4 years in length. In 2018, do you want to be paying a 34 years old Jonathan Thurston $1 million dollars per season?

There is no doubt it is a gamble. Look at players in recent years that have played beyond the age of 32. The few that have have managed to be good contributors  but how many of them can you honestly say were the best in the world at their position?

Darren Lockyer is one of the best players I have ever seen in my lifetime. At his best he had a complete command of the game. In his twilight years he was still great, but he was not the player he once was. His presence on the field counted for so much, and he could guide a team around the park as well as anyone in the game. However even the great Darren Lockyer was a different players once he hit 32 years of age.

Thurston is a tough player. He carries injuries just about every season. Injuries that would see most players on the sidelines, Thurston straps them up and goes out there. He knows how important he is to the Cowboys, Queensland and Australia. Players that push themselves like that though tend to get to a point where their body just gives up on them. They start getting injuries that won’t let them play. One top of that, at that age, taking weeks off has a bigger effect on a players fitness and timing than it did when they were younger.

That is the gamble all these teams bidding for Thurston are obviously willing to take. From my point of view, I think it is a little bit too much of a gamble.

I would love to have a player like Jonathan Thurston at my club, the Penrith Panthers. Who ever he goes to, they will immediately be set for a run at the Premiership. Thurston may benefit from advanced in injury prevention and treatment  which is moving ahead in leaps and bounds. Even things like nutrition are helping to extend players careers. We might get to 2018 and find that Thurston is looking to extend his NRL career, who knows.

I hope Thurston get the money, he deserves it. I love watching him play and I really do hope that he re-signs with the Cowboys and leads them to a Premiership in the near future. If I was running a club though, I’d see Thurston as a bit of a gamble. The upsides are tremendous  but there is a risk attached to handing over that much of the teams salary cap to just one players. Especially one that is blowing out 30+ candles on his birthday cake.

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