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Studio portrait photograph of Johnathan Thurston.

NRL player and Indigenous mentor
2018 Australian of the Year | Queensland

Captain of the North Queensland Cowboys, Johnathan works with Indigenous communities in North Queensland and supports a range of initiatives focusing on health, education and equality.

Johnathan's signed headgear and letter

Johnathan Thurston prefers action over words. For years his formidable deeds on the football field have spoken for him. Off the field, Johnathan uses his profile to help others, particularly Indigenous Australians, reach their potential. A family man, Johnathan credits his young family with providing a powerful grounding force in his life.

This protective headgear, painted by artist Vicki Golding, is immediately identifiable with ‘JT’ and was worn during numerous NRL All Stars games.

A black fabric helmet with 'MADISON' printed in white letters on the front. The helmet is decorated with dots and animal prints in blue, red, orange and white.

Headgear and letter from Johnathan Thurston

More than the game

The All Stars game is crucial on the Rugby League calendar and I love playing it. But what we do throughout the week – in the community, visiting local medical centres, encouraging leadership at school and connections to culture – far outweighs the Friday night game.

Connecting with culture

I’m in a privileged position. As a high-profile footballer I can help make a difference. I want to use my influence to help all Aboriginal people, because I know engaging with my own culture helped me be a stronger person, a better leader.

Family is my future

For a long time my life has been about football. My wife Samantha has shared the ups and downs and has been an inspiration to me again and again. She and my girls give me perspective. When I am with them nothing else matters and there is nothing missing.

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