Here's how you can meet Johnathan Thurston at GECC
RUGBY league immortal Johnathan Thurston will begin a new chapter of his life when he appears on The Footy Show tonight.
But it doesn't stop there as his post-playing career continues less than 24 hours later when he sits on the Channel Nine panel for the preliminary final between the Melbourne Storm and Cronulla Sharks.
Any thought of life settling down after playing his final NRL game against the Gold Coast Titans on September 1 can be put on hold until at least the end of the year when his Johnathan Thurston Live Tour 2018 wraps up.
"I'll probably be away every week now with Channel Nine rather than every second week but I'm hoping during the week I'll be able to spend more time at home with the family," Thurston told The Observer.
It's been 19 days since the 35-year-old played the last of his 323 NRL games but the feeling of retirement had only begun to kick in for the father of three earlier this week.
"Probably in the last couple of days it's hit me," Thurston said.
"Before that I was still hanging around with the boys. The next chapter of my life starts (today) when I fly to Sydney for The Footy Show and then down to Melbourne to be on the panel for the Melbourne-Sharks game. I'm excited about what lies ahead."
The four-time Dally M Player of the Year, two-time premiership winner and 2015 Clive Churchill Medal winner will soon embark on an extensive tour of Australia and New Zealand to talk about his life, which began in Brisbane playing for Souths Sunnybank.
Thurston will be in Gladstone on December 6 for An Evening With Johnathan Thurston and is looking forward to returning to the Port City.
"I've been there a couple of times to work with the Queensland FOGS (Former Origin Greats) and we visited some schools there," he said.
"The people are very nice and it's a great little city.
"I'll be giving people an insight into my life and telling my story. Obviously people want to hear about the highlights of my career so that will be in there."
While there are so many career highlights to choose from, Thurston gave some insight into a quirky trait that leaves smiles on young fans' faces twice a game.
He can't recall the first time he did it but he knows why he used to hand his famous headgear to a child in the crowd.
"I used to play with one headgear for two or three weeks and after half-time when I put it on - because it's all sweaty - it made my head really cold," Thurston said.
"So I asked if I could get two headgears so I could hand one out at half-time and have a fresh one for the second half.
"Madison were kind enough to do that for me and I've been doing it ever since."
A new life as a television pundit means watching the action from the commentary box.
And from what he's seen so far this NRL finals series, he believes Melbourne is still the team to beat.
"I'm a little bit eerie about the Sharkies down (in Melbourne) this week," Thurston said.
"If there's any team that can beat Melbourne in Melbourne it's the Sharks."
We are giving 10 lucky readers the chance to win a meet and greet for two including a professional photo and a signed item of your choice at An Evening With Johnathan Thurston at the Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre on Thursday, December 6.