Johnathan Thurston is met by the NSW defence after getting a kick away in Origin II. Credit: Grant Trouville. Copyright: NRL Photos.

Thurston praises 'best' band of brothers

It has been no accident that Queensland's eight-year long dominance in the State of Origin arena has coincided with Johnathan Thurston's coming of age in rugby league.

Despite tasting defeat in his debut series in 2005, Thurston has played in every game of the Maroons' dominance over the past eight years, playing a pivotal part along the way.

While clearly disappointed, the five-eighth stood tall and unreservedly praised his teammates and (as surprising as it may be) his opposition, describing how passionate he is about playing in the history-making team.

"I've obviously played in every single one of those matches so it's been a great journey for us so far – just because we lost the series it doesn't define who we are," Thurston said.

"It's been no doubt the greatest side I've ever been a part of so I'm very proud and very blessed.

"We're disappointed with losing the series but I can't praise the Blues enough or the way they have played in the first two games but we're going back to Brisbane for Game Three and no doubt it will be another cracker of a match.

"We have a lot to play for, as they do when they're trying to bounce back after eight years with a whitewash so we have a lot to play for."

Adding to an already impressive list of achievements, Thurston's second penalty conversation of the night took his individual tally to 162 points, surpassing his mentor Mal Meninga to break the highest point scoring record in the Origin arena.

"I would have swapped it for the win tonight," Thurston laughed. "I was a Canberra Raiders fan growing up so Mal was a hero of mine and I'd run through a brick wall for him so it'll be something I look back on when I retire."

While the series may be dead and buried, Thurston remains realistic about the game's outcome, reasoning that Queensland can hold their heads up high despite being outplayed by the Blues in the end.

"We're disappointed with the result but full credit to the Blues – they were the better side and obviously tonight, as much as it hurts, we can be proud with the way that we played but we weren't good enough in the end," Thurston said.

"We can hold our heads high. One might say that our preparation is the reason that we lost but we just weren't good enough in the end and in the second half there we just made too many errors and you can't do that in football, let alone Origin, and they made us pay."

The Queensland playmaker can breathe a sigh of relief though after being cleared of elbowing and headbutting his opposite No. 6 Josh Reynolds, leaving him free to play the Knights this Monday night.

Thurston noted: "It's not in my game at all. I apologised to him after the game for my actions but that was just in the heat of the moment. I'm better than that."

Unfortunately his Cowboys teammates Brent Tate and Matt Scott might not be so lucky after a knee and cheekbone injury respectively saw their appearances for the Maroons on Wednesday night cut short.

Tate is especially of concern having had three major knee operations previously.

First published on NRL.com