Inglis will come back a better leader for the Kangaroos. (Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Inglis will come back a better leader for the Kangaroos. (Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Thurston backs GI as Kangaroos captain

JOHNATHAN Thurston has urged Australia coach Mal Meninga not to blacklist Greg Inglis from the Test captaincy, declaring his former Origin teammate is the best man to lead the Kangaroos.

Thurston used the official launch of his autobiography at Suncorp Stadium as a platform to push for Inglis to be reinstated as Test captain when his two-match ban ends this weekend.

Meninga had little choice but to strip Inglis of his newly-minted status as Australian skipper for the drink-driving offence that cost him Test jumpers against New Zealand last week and Tonga on Saturday night.

But if anyone can relate to Inglis' plight, it is his former Origin and Test cohort Thurston.

The retired Cowboys champion was almost sacked by North Queensland over an alcohol-related incident at Brisbane's Treasury Casino in 2010 and is adamant Inglis will learn from his off-field indiscretion.

Asked if Inglis deserved to win back the Australian captaincy from Boyd Cordner, Thurston was unequivocal.

"Definitely - he is the man for the job," said Thurston, who lauded Inglis' Origin captaincy debut for Queensland this year.

"We saw what he did with the Maroons, in some of those (Origin) games, I thought he was the best player on the paddock.

"He leads by example, so that's a conversation for Mal, 'GI' and Boyd to have.

"Whichever way they go, they (Inglis or Cordner) would be great for the (Australia captaincy).

"We've all made mistakes and GI has made one.

"He has owned up to it now and no doubt he will want to put it behind him and be better for it. No doubt he will be."


The Souths star was very apologetic after the incident. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)
The Souths star was very apologetic after the incident. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

Indeed, it was Thurston's own hardships in the green-and-gold jumper that eventually steeled him for a leadership role at the Cowboys.

On Tuesday, as he spoke about the mix of pride and fear at penning his life story, Thurston opened up about the tragic death of his uncle Richard Saunders during Australia's 2008 World Cup tournament.

At the time, Thurston planned to quit the tournament before a phone call from his mum convinced him to play on.

Twenty hours after Saunders' death, Thurston produced a man-of-the-match performance against the Kiwis.


Thurston knows how Mal Meninga works. (Phil Hillyard)
Thurston knows how Mal Meninga works. (Phil Hillyard)


"The hardest part (of doing the book) was going into that chapter, I haven't spoken about the death of my uncle since it happened," Thurston said.

"It was a bit overwhelming having to re-live it. I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy. We had lost a family member to horrific circumstances, so it was very hard to talk about it.

"But I learnt how strong I was. I knew how much it meant for my family for me to play in that (World Cup).

"I got man of the match so I went all right. It showed how strong I could be during a tough time.

"I have been very open and honest. They are my stories to tell and they are all in the book."


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