Infotainment Factory: How Ricky Stuart saved a young JT's career

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Thursday, 20 September 2018

How Ricky Stuart saved a young JT's career


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Recently retired NRL legend Johnathan Thurston has opened up on the emotional moment his former coach Ricky Stuart changed the course of his career.

Recently arrived at the Bulldogs, a 19-year-old Johnathan Thurston had finally cracked into the NRL after years of being overlooked for his size and stature.

It was supposed to be everything he had ever dreamed of. But for all his aspirations, the scrawny five-eighth could only ponder the thought of returning home as he battled a debilitating bout of homesickness one night, crying alone in the Bulldogs dressing room.

“I remember him(Stuart) catching me in the locker room crying wanting to go home,” Thurston recalled.

“He put his arm around me and said ‘you’re home sick, we’re a family here we’ll look after you’ and convinced me to stay.”

Stuart recalled the moment with affection and was grateful for his intimate relationship in the infancy of the star’s career.

“I said ‘mate, lucky it’s not a disease homesickness, you’ll get over it,” Stuart said.

“We gave him a couple of weeks off. I don’t know if it was me looking after his welfare or me wanting him back because we wanted to win games of football.

Thurston the role model

“Having JT at the Dogs and then having the very fortunate luck to have some chance to coach him in the Australian team just gives me great memories.

It’s a sentiment that is reciprocated by Thurston who, as a young Raiders, fan grew up in awe of Stuart.

“I grew up supporting the raiders, so being in the halves and being able to pick his brain about rugby league - he had a massive influence on me.”

Recently retired NRL legend Johnathan Thurston has opened up on the emotional moment his former coach Ricky Stuart changed the course of his career.

Recently arrived at the Bulldogs, a 19-year-old Johnathan Thurston had finally cracked into the NRL after years of being overlooked for his size and stature.

It was supposed to be everything he had ever dreamed of. But for all his aspirations, the scrawny five-eighth could only ponder the thought of returning home as he battled a debilitating bout of homesickness one night, crying alone in the Bulldogs dressing room.

“I remember him(Stuart) catching me in the locker room crying wanting to go home,” Thurston recalled.

“He put his arm around me and said ‘you’re home sick, we’re a family here we’ll look after you’ and convinced me to stay.”

Stuart recalled the moment with affection and was grateful for his intimate relationship in the infancy of the star’s career.

“I said ‘mate, lucky it’s not a disease homesickness, you’ll get over it,” Stuart said.

“We gave him a couple of weeks off. I don’t know if it was me looking after his welfare or me wanting him back because we wanted to win games of football.

Thurston the role model

“Having JT at the Dogs and then having the very fortunate luck to have some chance to coach him in the Australian team just gives me great memories.

It’s a sentiment that is reciprocated by Thurston who, as a young Raiders, fan grew up in awe of Stuart.

“I grew up supporting the raiders, so being in the halves and being able to pick his brain about rugby league - he had a massive influence on me.”

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