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What I learnt from Johnathan Thurston

Johnathan Thurston

Johnathan Thurston is a modern-day gladiator and legend of Rugby League. JT as he is affectionately known was the captain of the first ever premiership win by the North Queensland Cowboys in 2015, his second premiership being part of the success at the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2004. At the end of the 2016 season, his NRL career has spanned 299 games for 87 tries, 846 goals and 2056 points.


He is a regular selection of representative teams having represented his native Queensland 36 times and has represented his country in 37 games. Johnathan is one of the most marketable and recognisable athletes in Australia.

From humble beginnings where experts believed his was too small to make it as a professional, however what separates him is his courage and vision, while off the field he has become a national hero and inspiration to the Australian youth & Indigenous people with his outstanding work in the community.

It was an absolute pleasure to interview a modern day gladiator and ambassador for the game. To listen to the entire interview use the player below.

Here are my key takeaways:



For a man of great success the premierships, player of year awards, the origin streak, what is success for JT?

“I just to try to work hard every day, trying to improve my game each day, every day is a chance for me and the team to get better. My team mates are what motivates me every day to do my preparation the best I can so when it comes to game day I can look them in the eye and know that I have given my all and prepared the best for them. What motivates me is that every day is a chance for me to get better”

A great takeaway to look at every day as an opportunity to get better or learn something new, something easy to apply to your life today"

Johnathan Thurston


JT isn’t he biggest, fastest or strongest but he has a unique ability to be at the right place at the right time or dish off a game winning pass or kick under fatigue. Just how did JT become one of the modern day greats?

“When I first moved to Sydney with the Bulldogs, technology came in so I watched a fair bit of video on Darren Lockyer and Andrew Johns coming through. I think the style of play at the club, allows me to pull off those plays. It’s about having vision, I can see it unfolding before it happens with my vision, I have the coaching staff to thank for that, they have put the structures to play but they let me execute the plays but also allow me to play off the top of my head”

Johnathan Thurston


We are all naive youngsters and our ability to bounce back from a setup, defeat or failure will define us, but JT had some key advice for becoming more professional:


“If I could have my time over again I would have looked after myself better in the early days, with the stretching, physio work and massage, I didn’t get the professional side till my mid 20’s. I have my weekly routine and game day routine that I have now and none of that is changing. For me it’s about getting the right amount of sleep, most games are at night so getting my sleep right the night before, so sometimes a good sleep in the afternoon of the game as well”

“Whatever profession you’re in, you need to keep working hard at it, nothing comes easy these days, you will get knocked down or you will get minuses put against you. But it’s how you stand up and get back up that counts, so keep working hard at it”




Johnathan is a standout for giving back both on and off the field. His good nature to the kids is quite visible through his interaction with the ball boys and kicking tee kids throughout the game. He kind hearted nature and willingness to give back off the field has set a new standard for the NRL players. See yourself where you can create a sense of community or do things without asking for anything in return


“Being a rugby league player is a privilege, growing up as kid I never thought of life like that, but I understand now the impact not only myself but certainly NRL players can have on children. North Queensland has been hammered with natural disasters and draughts and to bring North Queensland’s first maiden premiership up here it put smiles on the faces of people. That’s the power of sport, it can bring people together but also when they are going through those difficult times, it can put a smile on their faces”

Johnathan Thurston


Having two daughters has created new joy and brings a new meaning of life to him.

 “Becoming a father has changed my perspective completely, both my girls Frankie & Charlie are bundles of joy, it doesn’t matter what sort of day I’ve had they put a smile on my face. Some of the things I used to worry about with football or off the field I don’t think twice about now, it’s something I’m really enjoying”

Johnathan Thurston


Exactly what type of leader is JT? From outside looking in, he does a lot of his actions by leading by example and wanting the ball when the game is on the line. But from his own mouth is he the vocal or silent assassin type?

“I got given the captaincy at a very young again, at 23 or 24, I had to grow into the role. If I feel there is a valid point to make across the playing group or coaches I’ll speak my mind, but my role is too never shut up on the field but off the paddock if there is something to be said I make sure I get my point across”




As a proud man of Indigenous heritage, Johnathan was given the honour of succeeding Preston Campbell as captain of the Indigenous All Star. Just what did it mean to JT?

“One of the highlights of my career was leading the indigenous All-Stars onto the paddock, representing our culture and the history of our culture. I’m very proud, for a lot of indigenous kids to be looked up to, it’s something I’m enjoying doing. To represent our culture and people is a unique position to be in but something we are very proud of”

Johnathan Thurston


Always an interesting question to see the personalities of high achievers and where they look for inspiration, guidance and even entertainment. JT’s selections:

Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Barrack Obama


Some great performance tips & insights from JT. Now see if you can use some of his advice to help you in your own goals and dreams.


Check out the entire interview and let me know what you think at

I have conducted 100’s of interviews with some of the most successful people across business, art, sport and fitness on The Vision Board Podcast and also Talking with TK. Guests on my shows have included Layne Beachley, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Mario Andretti, Evander Holyfield, Kieren Perkins, Andrew Ettingshausen, Bradley Clyde, Michael Klim, Preston Campbell, Bryan Habana, Karmichael Hunt, Robbie Maddison, Paul Harragon, Mark Occhilupo, David Campese, Paul Wade, Trevor Hendy and Anthony Mundine.


You can find all of these episodes on Apple Podcasts & Stitcher or wherever you listen to your podcasts.


Enjoy the show



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