Johnathan Thurston has gone out a winner with a huge outpouring of appreciation from fans, teammates, opponents and the Australian community.

The 323-game veteran announced before the season started 2018 would be his last.

His final season retirement victory lap didn't go to plan however with the Cowboys finishing in the bottom half of the ladder.

The match started with plenty of emotion as Storm captain and long-time friend Cameron Smith was part of a big contingent of family and friends to welcome Thurston onto the field.


Fans, celebrities, and sports stars took to social media to praise and thank the man most assume will be a future Immortal.

The Titans led 18-6 at the break but were dominated in the second half to ensure a winning farewell for the champion No. 7.

Thurston terrorised the Titans with his short kicking game in the second half and it was fitting, after doing it so many times before, that he landed the fatal blow in his final appearance.

Trailing by two, the No.7 chipped and found Gavin Cooper with nine minutes to play, the backrower scoring for an unprecedented ninth straight game as the Cowboys shot ahead 24-20.

Gideon Gela-Mosby then sealed the contest with a 60m intercept effort in front of a sell-out crowd at Robina despite Brenko Lee's 80th-minute try.

Despite being a Titans home match, the crowd was there to send Thurston out a winner, booing the Titans at various stages of the match.

It was vintage stuff from Thurston in his 323rd NRL game but he also brought something extra in defence to drag his side back into the contest.

A corking tackle up-ended Titans big man Ryan James and led to the side's first try, while another jarring hit on Ashley Taylor kept the hosts under the pump in the second half.


Thurston's teammates cheekily ran out in replicas of his trademark headgear as he was greeted by his parents, wife Sam, three children and long-time Queensland teammate Cameron Smith.

"It's been a pleasure hey; I'm happy it happened and enjoyed every moment of it," he told Fox Sports after the game.

"I can't thank the game of rugby league enough for the life that it's given me."

The pulsing crowd of 26,681 was urging the visitors on but there was no repeat of last Friday's lightning start in Thurston's Townsville farewell.

Gold Coast controlled the early stages, with fullback AJ Brimson bursting out of the blocks to find a clear path through for the game's first try.

It scuppered a planned seventh-minute tribute for Thurston, with fans' applause muddled by the up-and-coming Titan's exploits.