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Thurston backflip on rep retirement plans

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 2/06/2016 Steve Zemek

Johnathan Thurston of the Maroons looks on during game one of the State Of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium on June 1, 2016 in Sydney, Australia © Cameron Spencer/Getty Images Johnathan Thurston of the Maroons looks on during game one of the State Of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium on June 1, 2016 in Sydney, Australia Johnathan Thurston has backtracked on plans to retire from representative rugby league next year, revealing he could be back in 2018 to torment NSW.

When the North Queensland, Maroons and Australian great announced his intentions to hang up his representative boots after next year's World Cup, you could hear the sigh of relief from Blues fans all the way in Cape York.

However, after spending the week in Maroons camp, and leading his side to a 6-4 win in Wednesday night's State of Origin series opener, Thurston admitted he was second guessing his plans.

"I was only thinking about that during the week," Thurston said when asked if he would find it hard to walk away.

"I love everything about it, the week, the boys, the culture this team has built over the years and just being apart of it.

"It's going to be tough to walk away.

"While I have had my mind set on hanging the rep boots up, the heart might tell me something different."

Earlier this year, Thurston announced plans to step away from Queensland and Australia after 2017 to concentrate on winning another premiership with the Cowboys in what shaped as his swan song in 2018.

A veteran of 34 Origins and one of the cornerstones of the side's nine series wins in a decade, he will be 35 by the time the 2018 Origin series comes around.

The 2018 season shapes as a changing of the guard for the Maroons with skipper Cameron Smith flagging plans to step away after that series, while Greg Inglis says he is considering standing down from rep footy to prolong his career, but has set no deadline.

Thurston described their game I win over Blues as among the best victories he had been involved in after his side were forced to absorb a mountain of pressure.

"I can't remember us defending like that. It was 6-4 at halftime and I'm not sure what the possession rate was but it didn't seem like we had much of it in the second half," Thurston said.

"It just felt like we were defending and coming up with big plays and that's what Origin is about - the character of the side."

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