Thurston set for immortality

EVERYONE knows the Johnathan Thurston premiership ring story.
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Johnathan Thurston

Well, they should.

In what has now gone down in NRL legend, then-Bulldogs bench player Thurston handed his 2004 grand final trinket to injured captain Steve Price.

Thurston admitted: ‘‘it didn’t feel right’’ accepting it on the winner’s podium.

Adding to the tug-at-the-heartstrings factor, hardened Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes offered his ring to Thurston in the dressing room upon hearing of his young playmaker’s noble gesture.

Ten years later, Thurston, 31, hopes to again enter sporting folklore.

He is primed to lead the North Queensland Cowboys to their first premiership.

And it seems, seal his Immortal status.

Yet not so long ago Thurston almost became a cautionary tale.

The notion of Thurston leading a title-winning North Queensland side was almost as amusing as the dreadlocks the fresh-faced playmaker sported when he first moved to Townsville in 2005.

Former whipping boys the Cowboys had only made the finals once – in 2004 – nine long years after their inception.

And while Thurston took confident strides on the field, relishing a guaranteed starting berth at North Queensland, off the field there were some stumbles.

In 2008, he was charged with public drunkenness after being arrested outside his Townsville apartment semi-naked.

Two years later the Cowboys issued a club apology after their captain was arrested on a public nuisance charge in Brisbane.

It wasn’t a good look – and Thurston knew it.

A quick glance around Townsville these days shows just how far Thurston has come since.

He is on billboards.

He is stopped on the street by strangers.

And that’s just in the pre-season.

Ahead of North Queensland’s NRL semi-final with Sydney Roosters tonight, all eyes are again on Thurston.

Quite simply, he is their hero.

Retired Test winger Brent Tate – who arrived at the Cowboys in 2011 – summed it up best.

‘‘He is their hope up there,’’ Tate said.

‘‘Everywhere he goes he brings joy to people.

‘‘He is respected and he respects the community.

‘‘I think he has really learned that over the last few years and grown into a real mature leader.

‘‘He’s a wonderful man and he means a lot to the people up there and I know they mean a lot to him.’’

It already has the makings of a feel good story but Thurston will be looking to add another chapter with a long-awaited premiership ring.

Yet ex-Test international Matt Johns believes Thurston will achieve so much more if North Queensland triumph on grand final day.

‘‘If he can guide this Cowboys team to the title, he will be assured of Immortal status,’’ he wrote in his News Corp column.

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Drivers told to ‘belt up’: Alarming number of motorists breaking the law by not wearing seatbelts

MILDURA’S top highway cop is urging motorists to buckle-up in the wake of alarming figures showing two people a week are nabbed in the city for not wearing a seatbelt.
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Restraint: Police are urging Mildura motorists to make sure child passengers are properly restrained. An unrestrained child could be killed or receive serious injuries in a car accident.

The latest Victoria Police statistics showed that between July 2013 and June 2014, police issued about 100 infringement notices to drivers in Mildura breaking the law with occupants unrestrained while driving in a motor vehicle.

These figures do not include outlying areas such as Red Cliffs, Merbein, Robinvale and Ouyen.

Mildura Police Highway Patrol Sergeant Mark McDonald said these statistics were concerning, especially when you brought babies and children into the picture.

“Quite often it’s the younger people and kids in the back seats who become a missile that gets bounced around the car, and they can not only injure themselves, but other people in the car as well,” he said.

“It is an issue (in Mildura) and you only need one action of someone who is seriously injured or killed because they weren’t wearing a seatbelt for it to become a big issue.”

Sgt McDonald said there were several different infringements for being unrestrained, for drivers, passengers and children below the age of 16, and it was always the driver’s responsibility to ensure everyone in the vehicle wore a seatbelt.

He said fines ranged from $295 to $332 and a loss of demerit points.

Sgt McDonald said police regularly ran motor vehicle operations across the region targeting seatbelts and mobile phone use.

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13 and under: Horsham Demons v Horsham SaintsPhotos

13 and under: Horsham Demons v Horsham Saints | Photos Romi Miller, H, Jess McDonald, HS. WNA u13 grand final, Horsham v Horsham Saints
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Georgie Carberry, H, Lily Bond, HS, Victoria Taylor, HS, Hayley Pope, H. WNA u13 grand final, Horsham v Horsham Saints

Georgie Carberry, H, Lily Bond, HS. WNA u13 grand final, Horsham v Horsham Saints

Tamika Mentha, H, Anesu Gororo, HS. WNA u13 grand final, Horsham v Horsham Saints

Hayley Pope, H. WNA u13 grand final, Horsham v Horsham Saints

Jemma Nagorka, H, Ruby Atherton, HS. WNA u13 grand final, Horsham v Horsham Saints

Georgie Carberry, H, Lily Bond, HS. WNA u13 grand final, Horsham v Horsham Saints

Romi Miller, H, Jess McDonald, HS. WNA u13 grand final, Horsham v Horsham Saints

Ruby Atherton, HS, Jemma Nagorka, H. WNA u13 grand final, Horsham v Horsham Saints

Nekaela Butler, H. WNA u13 grand final, Horsham v Horsham Saints

Romi Miller, H, Jess McDonald, HS, Danae Martin, HS. WNA u13 grand final, Horsham v Horsham Saints

Jess McDonald, HS, Romi Miller, H. WNA u13 grand final, Horsham v Horsham Saints

WNA u13 Premiers: Horsham Saints. (back) Ella Burgess, Danar Martin, Jess McDonald, Anesu Gororo, Ruby Atherton, coach Jamie Atherton, (front), Victoria Taylor, Lily Bond, Ella Janetzki, Maggie Caris

WNA u13 Best on Court: Maggie Caris, Horsham Saints

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Driving lapse has costly sequel for Newfield farmhand

Garry Trotter, 35, of Port Campbell-Timboon Road, pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court yesterday to careless driving.A TIRED Newfield farmhand who drove his ute across the road near his driveway without looking for oncoming traffic and caused a serious accident will pay $400 to the court fund.
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Garry Trotter, 35, of Port Campbell-Timboon Road, pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court yesterday to careless driving.

He was placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond and ordered to pay $400 to the court fund.

Magistrate Peter Mellas said Trotter had caused an enormous amount of damage to both vehicles involved in an accident and it was fortunate no one was badly injured.

“Everyone was lucky. It was on a straight stretch of road,” Mr Mellas said.

Police alleged that on July 26 Trotter started work at 5.30am and went home for a break at 11.20am.

Trotter was driving a tray ute along the Port Campbell-Timboon Road and got within about one kilometre of his driveway when he heard a noise, looked down and collided with a Holden Colorado utility travelling in the opposite direction.

Trotter told police he had not been taking any notice of traffic, he was on the wrong side of the road, not concentrating and did not give way.

He said he believed that when he looked down he inadvertently drifted onto the right side of the road.

Trotter said his ute was not insured.

He told the court he now concentrated a lot more when driving.

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Small screen role for UOW’s Kangaroo man

Adam Munn at UOW, far from the Broken Hill research centre where he works. Picture: ANDY ZAKELIUniversity of Wollongong’s Dr Adam Munn admits to being a somewhat reluctant TV star, despite having featured in several popular wildlife documentaries.
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“I don’t watch them,” he laughed. “I find doing them really nice and I like that they reach a lot of people but I can’t watch myself on them.”

The biological sciences lecturer is set to appear on SBS’s new series Born in the Wild on Saturday night in an episode exploring kangaroo behaviour.

Filming for the doco took place at Dr Munn’s Fowlers Gap laboratory earlier this year and used infra-red sensors to track the kangaroos’ activities.

Dr Munn believes kangaroos were chosen as part of the four-episode series because of their unique reproductive biology.

“They are so different to other animals because they raise their young in the pouch,” he said.

“It’s this little jelly bean that crawls into its mother’s pouch and sits there for 200 days before coming out as a joey; it’s just so unique and really suited to the outback arid environment.”

During filming, Dr Munn and the show’s presenters witnessed a “first” – a mother kangaroo feeding two young out of the pouch and one in the pouch.

The documentary will air at 7.30pm.

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