A looming 200-game milestone has suddenly made North Queensland Cowboys playmaker Johnathan Thurston feel old.
But Thurston - 30 next month - reckons the sensation will pale in comparison with what he endures when he finally retires.
Thurston launched his trademark laugh when asked how he felt about reaching his career milestone in the Cowboys' NRL home clash against Newcastle tomorrow night.
"It has actually taken longer than I thought," Thurston smiled. "For someone who reassessed their goals after one NRL game this is special. It definitely makes me feel old.
"But I am stoked. I didn't think I would get to 200. I had a few injuries along the way."
In a game of giants, Thurston has somehow nursed his 179cm, 89kg frame through to a 12th NRL season. He is showing no signs of slowing down after signing a lucrative contract extension with the Cowboys.
Thurston may have been his usual jovial self when asked about his milestone but he was deadly serious when talking about the toll the game had taken on his battered body.
"The body is not too bad. I just signed a new four-year deal so hopefully I can pump out those four years but the body is all right," he said.
But Thurston added: "When I retire it won't be. I will just keep trying to look after it at the moment."
The latest Thurston ailment was a wrist complaint suffered in the All Stars clash that forced the flashy pivot to enter the 2013 season without a Cowboys pre-season trial under his belt.
Looking forward to a maiden premiership with the Cowboys was Thurston's goal when he re-signed recently. However, he still took time to look back, ahead of game No200.
He ranked the 2004 premiership with the Bulldogs along with the Cowboys' NRL grand final loss a year later as moments to remember.
"But my favourite game would have to be the 2005 preliminary final against Parramatta [which North Queensland won 29-0]," he said.
"No one gave us a chance and we ended up dusting them by about 30, I think."
Thurston was also focusing on proving people wrong in 2013, especially after they were hammered last round 32-10 by the Melbourne Storm.
"We got a lot out of that game. The scoreline didn't reflect how close it was - we are quietly confident going into this match," he said.