As you know, Gameday Mouthguards have been expanding our offence, and the latest star to join the team is none other than one of the hardest hitting Queenslanders in Australia, Johnathan 'JT' Thurston.
Upon signing the NRL legend we thought we'd ask him just a few questions to better understand what his role at Gameday could be.
GD - "Welcome to Gameday, JT! First thing's first, how did you get into rugby league?"
JT - "My Mum is 1 of 13 and, has 9 bros, so we always had an uncle that lived with us at some stage of my life. So, as I grew up I was always playing footy in the backyard and my dad played in the local footy league in Brisbane, so from the age of 4 I was their ball boy. And when I turned 5, I signed up to play in the junior rugby league in Brisbane and I've played ever since. So, I've got my dad and uncles too thank for introducing me to league."
"How old were you when you started wearing a mouthguard?"
"Mmm, good question. My first memory of wearing a mouthguard was when I was 8-years-old. They had just come into the game at that time and they were becoming mandatory. I remember it not being as comfortable as custom."
"Are there any certain items you wore to protect yourself on the field?"
"Yeah, definitely. Ever since I was 17, I've always worn headgear and since I could remember I have worn a mouthguard. Playing rugby league when I was young, I was always the smallest kid so I used to wear shoulder pads for protection too. They are always the 3 items I wore as a kid. These days I still wear my headgear and mouthguard."
"As a kid, did you play any other sports?"
"I played a bit of touch footy and a couple years of cricket. Those were the 2 other sports I played as a kid. Once I hit 16 I put all my eggs in the one basket and knew that rugby league was what I wanted to do. I got a great opportunity to go to a rugby league school in Toowoomba, where I completed year 11 and 12, and that's when it really kicked off for me in rugby league."
"What was one of your greatest Origin moments?"
"There's been a few, but the one that really stands out is in 2006. It was game 3 in Melbourne and we had our backs against the wall, we were faced with a lot of adversity in that game, it really shows the character, the passion and pride of the Queensland side to come back and win that game. That game officially started our 8 series run, I remember watching Locky [Darren Lockyer] pick up that loose ball and take off to beat a couple defenders and score a try. I remembered players coming out of everywhere, coming from over the top of him with excitement. Yeah, that's probably the one that sticks out of my mind the most."
"You talked about passion and pride in the Queensland guernsey, what does the maroon guernsey mean to you?"
"I always grew up having those dreams of playing in a maroon guernsey, you know I grew up watching players like Alfie Langer and Mal Meninga run around with the likes of Steve Renouf. So I was always in the backyard, thinking that I was those blokes. When I came to 16, 17 and 18 I started realising that league is what I wanted to do. When Mel took over in 2006 he brought a lot of the previous players that helped lay the foundation for the maroon guernsey into camp and it gave us a real insight into the history of State of Origin, especially before 1980 where a lot of Queensland players were playing for New South Wales and flogging Queensland in the interstate series. It was probably the pinnacle of playing rugby league - State Of Origin, no doubt now the game is starting to get on the calendar. We've got the World Cup at the end of the year, but, playing for Queensland you're not only representing yourself and your family but millions of people that live here, and, you can see that lots of the Queensland people have been through hard times and the people look forward to the State Of Origin. Winning can bring joy to kids when they go to school."
"Why do you support the Rainbow Laces?"
"To support the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex) community. There hasn't been a player that has come out since Ian Roberts. If there was a player that did, I would fully support their sexuality and the way they choose to live. That doesn't phase me at all, whether they are gay or not, so I am happy to throw my hand up and my support behind to help. If you're a footballer, you're a footballer."
Thanks JT. It's fantastic to see someone of your stature in sport taking a leadership role in supporting a worthy cause. Awesome. We look forward to the rest of the season and tackling many more causes head-on together - with a custom mouthguard in, of course!