THE WORLD’S best player will achieve a long-term ambition at Headingley next weekend.
Australian Test half-back Johnathan Thurston will lead North Queensland Cowboys’ attempt to win the Dacia World Club Challenge for the first time when they square up to Leeds Rhinos on February 21.
Thurston proved how seriously he is taking the game by giving up a place in the Indigenous All Stars team and revealed he is desperate to get his hands on the trophy, which Leeds have won three times.
North Queensland set off from Australia yesterday and Thurston told his local paper the Townsville Bulletin: “It’s the one that I want to tick off the bucket list.
“Leeds have been at the top of their game over there for a number of years now. To have the opportunity to go over there and play against the best is something that I’m really looking forward to.
“It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come around very often. We’re in a privileged position and we need to make the most of it.”
Thurston admitted he is expecting the atmosphere to be red hot on the pitch and frosty off it.
Former Cowboy Matt Bowen played in the Wigan team beaten by Rhinos in last year’s Grand Final.
And Thurston revealed: “The thing the boys are looking forward to the most is the crowd.
“He (Bowen) has let the boys know that they rip into you so that’s a part of the fun factor about going over there. None of the boys have experienced that.
“He got ripped quite a bit over there – they were calling him ‘Fatty Bowen’ – so it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with for our boys.”