Johnathan Thurston’s autobiography will publish in October 2018 by HarperCollins Publishers Australia. Thurston, Australia’s most celebrated and award-winning rugby league player, announced earlier this year in The Courier Mail that 2018 will be his final NRL season.
Thurston is widely regarded as rugby league’s greatest player. In 2015, he became the first ever four-time Dally M Medallist, as well as the first ever three-time winner of the Rugby League World Golden Boot Award.
The as yet untitled autobiography — written with News Corp journalist and long-time friend James Phelps, who was entrenched with the Bulldogs during Thurston’s rise — will follow Thurston’s journey from a Brisbane kid who was written off as too skinny, too slow and too wild to play professionally, to his debut with the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2003, to State of Origin star, to Dally M and Clive Churchill Medal winner, and the fairy tale premierships.
Thurston says, ‘My story started in the backyard of a housing commission house in Sunnybank Hills. All these years later and despite my achievements, I am still blown away and completely humbled that people want to read my story. I’m honoured to have partnered with HarperCollins on this project and really hope everyone enjoys reading about my journey.’
On writing the book with Thurston, Phelps says, ‘I thought I knew everything about this Australian sporting legend. I didn’t. No one does. But soon they will. J.T. gave me access to all his personal files for the project and all the knockbacks, contracts, and deals will be laid bare for the first time. He opens up on the setbacks and scandals. On the agony and pain. On love and hate — and on the time he almost walked away from rugby league. But this story doesn’t begin with medals and trophies, it begins in a Brisbane backyard; with a boy, a ball, and a bloody big dream.’
Johnathan’s long-time agent, Sam Ayoub of Ultra Management (Sports), brokered the landmark publishing deal, the largest for any NRL player, with publisher Helen Littleton of HarperCollins, for world rights. Ayoub says, ‘I first met Johnathan with his mother and father in Brisbane, after watching him play. He was a very shy, skinny boy who didn’t say much but the one thing that grabbed my attention was how he listened to every word and would look up every now and again with acknowledgement. Despite his reserved nature, it was obvious to me that he had a strong will and a drive to make his parents proud. I clearly remember his mother Debbie asking me to, ‘please look after my little Johnny’. He didn’t require much looking after as he was one of the most dedicated kids I had come across. He had a steely reserved confidence and together with his talent, I had a feeling that he was going places. That quiet, shy boy has grown to become one of the greatest players of all time, if not the greatest. He never stops making all those around him proud, from family, friends, supporters he has truly grown into a role model. I am proud to be part of his journey and to have brokered a book deal that will finally share his extraordinary life story with his millions of devoted fans.’
James Kellow, CEO of HarperCollins Australia says of the opportunity to publish the book: ‘Johnathan’s achievements speak for themselves but the story of that success is also a universal story of courage, perseverance and triumph — in the face of doubt and the doubters. We are so proud to be publishing a story that we know will inspire all Australians.’
The publication of the book, later this year, follows on from the February launch of the Johnathan Thurston Academy, the first of its kind in Australia. The academy, based in Sydney and Brisbane, will assist young people to find success in the areas of education, healthy living, employment and sport. The academy will develop and deliver high quality programs to individuals, backed by major community and industry partnerships to support each student to strive for their personal, learning and career goals. For more information on the JT Academy see www.jtacademy.com.au.
Posted on March 5, 2018 by Andrea