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Smith and Thurston to kick-off 2018 with testimonial

2017 NRL - Grant Trouville © NRL Photos
Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith following Origin 3 at Suncorp Stadium this year.

Australian, Queensland and Melbourne Storm and North Queensland Toyota Cowboys legends, Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston will be recognised for their incredible contribution to Rugby League in a special testimonial match to be played ahead of the 2018 season. 

Smith’s Storm will take on Thurston’s Cowboys at their beloved Suncorp Stadium next year, the start of Thurston’s final year in the NRL.

The game, which organisers are calling ‘A Night with Cameron Smith and JT’ will take place in the 2018 pre-season, on Friday, 23rd February, with the players announcing the Cowboys Community Foundation supported ‘NRL Cowboys House’ as well as Ovarian Cancer Australia and Prostate Cancer Foundation as charity partners for the event. 

The match, which will be broadcast exclusively on Fox League, on Fox Sports, will also be the first time the teams have faced each other since the 2017 NRL Grand Final, which Smith’s Storm won 34-6 over a Cowboys side playing its second Grand Final in three years after losing co-captain Thurston to a season-ending shoulder injury in Origin II.

Individually, their achievements already have them certain to be future Immortals of the game, however, collectively, their resume` reads as 657 club games, 59 Origins, 89 Tests, 10 All-Star appearances, 6 Dally M Medals, 5 Wally Lewis Medals, four NRL Grand Final wins and 2 World Cups, records that are likely never to be matched by a Queensland hooker and five-eight in the same generation.

Both players’ dedication to Rugby League is matched only by their dedication to giving back to the community so both men are thrilled to be able to support these deserving charities with a portion of ticket sales being donated to all three charities.

Thurston has selected the Cowboys Community Foundation supporting the ‘NRL Cowboys House’ and is excited to be able to support a charity he feels strongly about and is closely involved with.  

“NRL Cowboys House provides housing and access to education for young indigenous boys from remote North Queensland communities, who otherwise would may not have had the opportunity to complete a secondary education.  In less than one school year, I’ve personally witnessed significant transformation in our House Brothers and know that providing a caring and culturally responsible environment focussed on education is closing the gap for our boys, their families and their communities. I am thrilled that this Testimonial Match gives me the opportunity to further support this generation-changing initiative of the Cowboys Community Foundation” Thurston said.

Smith, who has selected two charities, Ovarian Cancer Australia and Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia said he was delighted that the Testimonial match has given him the opportunity to support two charities he is passionate about.

“I have been an Ovarian Cancer Australia ambassador (OCA) for several years through the Storm’s link with the organisation and its founder Nicole Livingstone. The organisation works tirelessly to educate women and support those affected by it.

“I have also decided to support Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. A member of my family has been affected by the disease and men’s health is not something that is often spoken about, so if I can create some awareness not only around prostate cancer but men’s health in general then that’s something I’d like to achieve as part of this Testimonial match.”

Smith and Thurston will be celebrating a combined 32 years of professional rugby league in 2018 and having played together as both teammates and fierce opponents for more than two decades it is fitting that they can celebrate their careers together in the city that started it all for them both, Brisbane.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is equally as thrilled to have the game being played in Brisbane, at the stadium where both players have achieved such incredible achievements throughout their career.

"Cameron and Johnathan are outstanding ambassadors for their club, their State, their country and the game of rugby league.  They are also selfless contributors off-the-field," the Premier said.

The match will provide fans with an opportunity to pay tribute to the living legends for the contributions they have made to National team, State team, their clubs and Rugby League in general but will also be a chance for both Smith and Thurston to thank the fans who have supported them throughout their careers, ahead of what is set to be a memorable season for both men.

The event will include game-day entertainment and fan activations involving Smith and Thurston with exciting announcements around these components to come.

Tickets will go on sale for general public on Friday October 13 via Ticketek, North Queensland and Melbourne Storm members will be able to access tickets via a pre-sale on Thursday October 12.