RUGBY LEAGUE: Johnathan Thurston has decided his future.
The North Queensland superstar will sign a one-year extension with the Cowboys as soon as next year's salary cap has been determined.
The champion halfback has also revealed that this season will be the last time he will wear the maroon for Queensland and green and gold for Australia.
Not wanting to leave the Origin side reeling with their champions retiring at once, Thurston will bow out after the 2017 series to concentrate solely on the Cowboys.
He has also phoned Mal Meninga to inform him of his availability for the World Cup at the end of the year but won't be playing Test football after the tournament.
In a selfless move, the four-time Dally M Medal winner says he'll repay the Cowboys by dedicating his final year to only them.
"At this stage, it'll be an extra year next year,” Thurston told foxsports.com.au of his future.
"I've spoken to the club to let them know that I'm keen to go again but I've also spoken to Mal, letting him know that this will be my last year of rep footy.
"My goal is to warrant selection in the World Cup and make sure I make that squad.
"The Cowboys and the representative staff are well aware of where my situation is at.
"The Cowboys have been great to me on and off the field. If I get through this year well, I'd like to put all my focus into the Cowboys.”
With his birthday in April, season 2018 will see the superstar playing until the age of 35.
While he's confident his body can still not only withstand the brutal toll of week to week NRL combat but also rep footy, he is aware of the need to usher in the next generation of representative talent.
The Maroons have several talented halves biting at the bit for their opportunity in Origin including the likes of Anthony Milford, Moses Mbye and Ben Hunt. Daly Cherry-Evans is also no stranger to the Maroons' set-up.
After 12 years as part of the most successful Origin side in history, Thurston admits this year will be an emotionally charged series.
"It'll be a little bit emotional,” he said.
"I've been involved in that team for a long time. I'm comfortable with where I'm at with the decision.
"That gives the coaching staff and the Maroons some time with Smithy, Cooper and the likes still there, we're not all retiring at the same time and leave a massive hole. We can filter out and make it as least painful as possible.”
With two years left in the game, Thurston plans on playing on in 2018 before likely entering into the next phase of his life.
It's a difficult time for the Cowboys with a host of stars off-contract at the end of this season.
Thurston headlines a list which includes Jason Taumalolo, Gavin Cooper, Matt Scott, Kyle Feldt, Patrick Kaufusi and Gideon Mosby-Gela.
Thurston said plans to finalise his new deal have stalled with the CBA yet to be determined and doubts he's the only one in the same situation.
"It's pretty hard to do anything when the salary cap hasn't been sorted out,” he said.
"I think all players and clubs are in the same boat.”
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