STAR playmaker Johnathan Thurston is intent on producing a vastly-improved performance for Queensland in next week's highly-anticipated State of Origin series decider after admitting he had his "worst game of the year" on Sunday.
The Cowboys were beaten 26-18 by the Raiders at Canberra, and with just 10 days between that game and Origin III in Sydney, Thurston could be forgiven for feeling somewhat shaken ahead of one the biggest games of his life.
Instead, the experienced 30-year-old can't wait to take on the Blues.
"That was probably the worst game I've had all year and I've had a few, so I'm certainly looking to bounce back," he said.
"And what a better arena to do it in than in a decider down in enemy territory in front of 80,000 people."
Thurston is confident he can quickly rediscover his groove after the forgettable outing in Canberra, where fellow Queenslander Josh Papalii ran riot for the hosts..
The 183cm, 110kg forward ran at Thurston regularly and at one stage swatted him away with relative ease.
"It was just a day to forget. Thing's just didn't go well. They played great and we were really poor across the board," Thurston said.
"The big fella (Papalii), I had nightmares of him on Sunday night. Thank goodness he's on my side this week."
Thurston lauded the skills of the 21-old who made his debut for the Maroons in game two at Brisbane last month.
"I suppose he's still finding his feet in this arena, but he's got the potential to be anything," Thurston said at Coolum yesterday, when the side settled in for a four-day training camp.
"He's got the size, power, footwork and he can hit. Once he realises how good he is he can take his game to another level."
Papalii came off the bench to chalk up just 11 minutes at Suncorp Stadium. But Thurston is hopeful the enforcer will get to play a bigger role in game three.
"He can certainly rattle a few ribcages there in the middle third for us so hopefully he gets some more game time," he said.
"He's got a bit of a taste for it, but I know he's thirsty for more."
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