NRL: Thurston refuses to pony up on future at Cowboys

Johnathan Thurston. Photo / Getty Images
Johnathan Thurston. Photo / Getty Images

Johnathan Thurston has refused to give any assurances he'll remain with North Queensland beyond next season, leaving the champion playmaker poised to potentially become the game's highest-paid player.

A week after his Australia and Queensland teammate Greg Inglis signed a new deal with South Sydney to become the NRL's first million-dollar-a-season man, Thurston said he had yet to decide where his future lies.

The 29-year-old two-time Dally M Medallist is the biggest name off-contract at the end of the 2013 campaign, and with the new broadcast deal pumping A$1 billion into the game, Thurston is in a strong position to name his price.

The Cowboys have no fewer than 20 players who have deals that expire at the end of next year, including representative props Matt Scott and James Tamou, while Matt Bowen, Brent Tate, Dallas Johnson and prolific winger Ashley Graham will also be off contract.

This could hamper their attempts to keep the former Canterbury playmaker, who joined the club in 2005, but Thurston, who will play for Australia against New Zealand tomorrow in Townsville, said he was more interested in taking a holiday at the moment.

"It's still a long way away, my attention is all on this weekend," Thurston said. "I have a holiday planned and I don't want to worry about it before then.

"When I get back that's when I'll sit down and work out with my manager and we'll work out then what is best for my future."

Tomorrow's international will see just one referee take control of the game but Thurston, who was seething at the officials after North Queensland's controversial finals loss to Manly last month, is happy for the NRL to stick with two whistleblowers.

However, he said more assistance was needed from the touch judges and less reliance on video referees.

"Having the two refs is a good option, but there are little issues in the game with the video ref and the benefit of the doubt," he said.

"But what are our touch judges doing? They have to have more influence than just putting their flags up.

"They need to be helping the refs. They wear mics, why can't they tell the refs when a player is offside?"

- AAP

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