A tribute honoured Johnathan Thurston before the State of Origin series decider at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane but Queensland captain Cameron Smith provided the fitting farewell.
Smith at times choked back tears when he reflected on Thurston's 37-game Origin career before inviting the champion five-eighth to help him lift the victors' shield after Queensland's series-clinching 22-6 game three win on Wednesday night.
Thurston's glittering Origin career was ended by a shoulder injury suffered in Queensland's game two win in Sydney.
Denied a last hurrah at home by injury, Thurston received a pre-match video tribute at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night before a brief on-field interview with his family by his side. The formalities appeared over for Thurston until an emotional Smith took to the podium to receive the winners' shield yet again.
"I know there's been plenty said and plenty of presentations this week and tonight, but I reckon you're the greatest person to have ever pulled on a Maroon jersey, mate," Smith said to Thurston, who was standing sideline with his right arm in a sling.
"It was unfortunate that he couldn't finish here tonight in front of his beloved Queensland fans.
"I don't know if I've come across a more passionate Queenslander.
"For what you've done in this jersey, I don't think anyone could ever thank you enough, mate.
"I wish you all the very best for the future. Let's lift this shield up together."
Thurston gratefully accepted the honour before sitting front and centre in the team photo brandishing the winners' shield.
"It was a pretty special moment," Smith said of raising the shield.