Cowboys halfback Johnathan Thurston has responded to claims he’s past his best following a bold statement from league legend Greg Alexander.
Thurston said Alexander had a right to his opinion after the former international slammed Thurston’s form to begin the year, claiming he might’ve played one year too long.
“Makes me happy,” quipped Cowboys coach Paul Green following the Cowboys 22-12 loss to the Warriors.
When asked why criticism aimed at his captain brought him joy, Green said it’s perfect fuel for the champion halfback.
“Johno can respond the way Johno does,” he answered.
Prior to Saturday night’s loss, Alexander gave a stinging appraisal of the halfback’s level of play.
“JT, we have to say it’s been a mixed start after spending last year on the sidelines,” Alexander said on Fox Sports.
“He looks a little out of sorts. He’s looking like someone that’s possibly played the game a little bit too long.
“I’ve seen players when they get too old. They hit the ground more often, they are easier to tackle, they’ve lost half a yard of speed.
“That’s not to say JT won’t find his feet, but that’s how he’s playing at the moment. He looks half a yard off the pace.”
Thurston’s former Maroons teammate, Cooper Cronk, took exception to Alexander’s blunt assessment, opting to give the champion halfback the benefit of the doubt.
“That hurts, Brandy. You should send a text message to Thurston that Brandy said that and I reckon he’ll be the best player on the ground today.”
Even if Thurston did receive a text message, nothing was going to stop the Warriors.
The kiwis are 5-0 in the club’s best start to a campaign, staying with St George Illawarra as the competition’s only unbeaten teams.
Unfancied by many pundits at the beginning of 2018, they are firming as favourites to make their first finals appearance since 2011.
They again demonstrated their new-found defensive resilience and were served best by their outside backs with David Fusitu’a, Peta Hiku, Solomone Kata and Ken Maumalo all racking up more than 120 metres, Maumalo leading the way with 159m.
“It was a real tough contest out there,” Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said.
“We came up against a very committed footy team and I think they had something like 95 per cent completion with about 10 or 15 minutes to go.
“It took us a lot to get over the tryline, particularly in that second half.”