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Gallen deserves proper send-off, says Thurston

LAST HURRAH: Paul Gallen of the Blues is tackled by Cameron Smith and Matthew Gillett of the Maroons during State of Origin game one.
LAST HURRAH: Paul Gallen of the Blues is tackled by Cameron Smith and Matthew Gillett of the Maroons during State of Origin game one. DEAN LEWINS

HIGHLY decorated Queenslander Johnathan Thurston says it will be very sad if New South Wales captain Paul Gallen plays his last Origin match in front of only 60,000 fans at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night.

While Queensland doesn’t care how many Blues fans turn out for game three, having already wrapped up the series 2-0 for the 10th time in 11 years, Thurston said Gallen deserved better than to play his 23rd Origin, the most by any NSW forward, in front of a half-empty stadium.

The Blues haven’t pulled a crowd of less than 80,000 at home since 2010 when 61,259 fans turned out to see Queensland complete Origin’s last clean sweep.

NRL officials are worried the crowd may struggle to top 60,000 and are urging rugby league fans to say farewell to Gallen.

“It will be a real shame if their captain runs out in front of 60,000,” Thurston said.

“He’s played over 20 Origin games for them, it would be sad, I think.”

Regardless, Thurston said he expected the Blues to come out all guns blazing.

“It’s Gal’s last game and apparently Robbie’s (Farah) last game, so they’ll come out fired up and play well, which will be a real challenge for us,” he said.

“I’ve only been part of one whitewash (2010) and we have all got a chance to be part of something special on Wednesday night.

“They’ve got a lot to play for too. The pressure is on them, they’re under the pump.”

Thurston said whoever coach Laurie Daley picked opposite him in the No.6 jumper – Matt Moylan or Jack Bird – they would be “dangerous”.

“Matt is more of a ball player while Jack is a ball runner,” Thurston said.

With Corey Parker the latest member of the team to retire on Wednesday night, Thurston admitted it felt like his own Origin career was winding down.

“It seems like it is starting to come to an end but I am still loving it like my first series. It’s quite special and I know I will miss it when that day comes,” he said.

“Cozza (Parker) hasn’t said anything to the boys and those that know him know he won’t. He’ll just go about his business.

“The best way for us to send him out the way he deserves is to prepare the best we can and play the best we can.”

Topics:  johnathan thurston new south wales blues origin2016 paul gallen