Johnathan Thurston v Benji Marshall.
Johnathan Thurston v Benji Marshall.

Boys to men: The end of JT and Benji’s 13-year rivalry

ON Thursday night, at Leichhardt Oval, a 13-year rugby league rivalry comes to an end.

Johnathan Thurston v Benji Marshall.

The two modern-day greats have a long and storied history playing against one another in the NRL and in representative games.

North Queensland's clash with the Wests Tigers is the last time the two men will square off in a regular season game.

It will be the last time they ever face one another on the playing field, unless the Cowboys and Tigers meet again in the 2018 finals series.

Benji Marshall and Johnathan Thurston embrace at Leichhardt Oval.
Benji Marshall and Johnathan Thurston embrace at Leichhardt Oval.

HEAD-TO-HEAD HISTORY

Thurston and Marshall first faced one another in an NRL game in round 6 of the 2005 season.

As will be the case on Thursday night, Marshall wore the No.6 jersey for the Tigers and Thurston wore the No.7 for the Cowboys.

The Cowboys won the game 44-20 in Townsville.

Marshall scored a try, and Thurston kicked five of seven conversion attempts.

In total, they have played against one another 17 times. Marshall has won 10 of those games and Thurston has won seven.

In those 17 games, Marshall has scored seven tries to Thurston's three. But Thurston has scored 118 points in total, to Marshall's 90 points.

Marshall has returned 21 try assists on those games to Thurston's 18.

Benji Marshall and Johnathan Thurston representing New Zealand and Australia respectively.
Benji Marshall and Johnathan Thurston representing New Zealand and Australia respectively.

The pair have also played against one another in 11 Test matches - Marshall for New Zealand and Thurston for Australia.

Thurston has won 9 of these to Marshall's 1, and one of the Tests was drawn.

Thurston comfortably beats Marshall in total tries scored (5 to 1) and points scored (92 to 22) in the Tests.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS

The most memorable game between Marshall and Thurston is the 2005 NRL grand final.

The game will always be remembered for Marshall's stunning flick pass to Pat Richards for a brilliant try assist.

Benji Marshall consoles Johnathan Thurston after the 2005 NRL grand final.
Benji Marshall consoles Johnathan Thurston after the 2005 NRL grand final.

The Tigers beat the Cowboys 30-16 and Marshall was the hero.

And it was Marshall again who had the last laugh in the 2008 World Cup final at Lang Park.

The Kiwi five-eighth famously pounced on a Billy Slater horror mistake to score for New Zealand and put the nail into Australia's coffin.

Marshall also kicked two of three conversion attempts that night, while Thurston was two from four off the tee.

Will JT get one over his old rival in enemy territory on Thursday night?