JOHNATHAN Thurston has turned his back on offers from a host of Sydney clubs including the Bulldogs and Penrith, yesterday announcing he would stay with the Cowboys until at least the end of the 2017 season.
The 29-year-old said he had could have gone to Sydney for more money, but re-signed with the north Queensland club in a four-year-deal believed to be worth close to $1million a season.
Thurston, a two-time Dally M winner and co-captain at the Cowboys, said a combination of factors had convinced him to stay in Townsville which has been his home since transferring from the Bulldogs in 2005.
"No doubt it was the toughest decision I've had to make career-wise," he said.
"Money wasn't the be-all to end-all. I've knocked a fair bit back to stay at the club and potentially finish my career here.
"I'm starting a family, the lifestyle, the club, coming to training with the roster we've got ... I've got lifelong friends and best mates here."
Thurston said it had been a tough couple of weeks making the final decision, adding he was convinced it had been the right one.
"I've had a few days to think about it and I'm happy. It's a great place to raise my kids."
Securing the 2011 Golden Boot winner was the icing on the cake for the Cowboys who have recently re-signed co-captain Matt Scott, representative forward James Tamou and quality backs Kane Linnett and Antonio Winterstein.
Thurston said he was confident the club had the talent to challenge for the premiership not only this season, but for the next few years.
"If we can keep the majority of this side together over the next few years hopefully we can bring some silverware home," he said.
He also said he was feeling fit and healthy, but added he was unsure whether he would play on beyond the duration of his new contract.
"I feel fit and I feel strong," he said.
"The last couple of years I've learned to look after myself on and off the field so hopefully I can get four more good years out."
Cowboys football manager Peter Parr said everyone at the club was delighted to have concluded the contract negotiations so early in the season.
"It means we've got one of the best players in the world, if not the best player," Parr said.
"Johnathan Thurston is a really great ambassador for our club and the way he's handled this has been first class."
THURSTON FACT FILE
- Dally M winner in 2005 and 2007
- 2011 Golden Boot winner for best player in the world
- 2012 Ken Stephen medal for his off-field wortk
- Ambassador for the Queensland Reconciliation Awards
- 24 games for Queensland
- 23 games for Australia
- 198 NRL games - 169 for the Cowboys
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