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North Queensland Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston's $5 million, four-year deal to stay at club

Thurston: Image credit: NRL.COM

North Queensland will on Monday announce a staggering four-year, $5 million contract to retain the Queensland and Kangaroos halfback.The revelation puts the supremely talented playmaker among the highest-paid footballers of any code in Australia.The Gold Coast Suns' Gary Ablett is thought to be the AFL's biggest earner, on a $1.3 million a season deal at the new franchise, while Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero stands alone on his $2 million a year salary with Sydney FC in the A-League.The final details of the contract, which include a range of lucrative third-party arrangements allowed under the NRL's salary cap, were being finalised last night.
Regardless, today Thurston will be announced as the Cowboys' third major re-signing, alongside representative props James Tamou and Matt Scott.

After guiding the Cowboys to a season-opening 24-12 win, Thurston said it would be a relief to get his future finalised.

"That's right. Really looking forward to the season," he said. "I'll make a decision this week."
The 29-year-old turned his back on rich offers from Penrith Panthers and his former club, Canterbury-Bankstown.
It's understood that Panthers boss Phil Gould, who put together a deal that included an attractive post-football career, was told of the news over the weekend.
The Panthers were the closest to snaring Thurston, who was the most sought-after player off contract for next season.
He was courted by several clubs, including the Bulldogs, who flew him down to Sydney for a secret late-night tour of the club's Belmore facilities with coach Des Hasler.

Thurston's decision to remain in Townsville will be a huge boost for the Cowboys.

After Saturday night's win over the Bulldogs, and with Thurston's future still unresolved, Cowboys centre Kane Linnett said the star's retention was an important boost for the playing group.

"JT, he does so many good things - not only on the field but off the field for the Cowboys," the young centre said.

North Queensland coach Neil Henry also said Thurston was "close" to deciding his future.

"My gut feeling all along has been that he'll stay," Henry said on Saturday night.

"Until it's done, it's not done but I'm confident the club ... has been able to put something together to enable him to stay at the Cowboys I think there's a bit of clarity about the whole thing now and we will get something this week." 

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