Can Cowboys do it for JT?
WHEN Johnathan Thurston set the football on his kicking tee to attempt the conversion of Dane Gagai's try three minutes from the end of Origin Two last year, few of the true believers thought he would fail.
Of course Thurston landed the conversion, put the Maroons in front by two and enabled Queensland to win the game, square the ledger and then ultimately win their 11th series in the past 12 years.
An injured Thurston did not play in the decider but that pressure kick no doubt won his team the series.
JT and pressure go hand in hand. He eats it up with monotonous regularity.
But the heat in the Cowboys kitchen has suddenly increased quite a few degrees.
And while we know JT handles that with ease, how will his teammates deal with the burden of sending out their brilliant leader in the manner he truly deserves?
Thurston is, as surely every fan is aware, about to draw the curtain on an extraordinary career.
And while he will not concede - publicly, anyway - that another premiership is all he wants, the fact he has decided to quit rep footy for his last hurrah says much about his mindset.
That is one aspect of the pressure confronting the Cowboys on the eve of the 2018 premiership. The other is their favouritism.
Most bookies have them on the second line of betting, a smidgen behind the beefed-up Roosters.
And in last weekend's Sunday Mail NRL season guide, six of the 12 experts had them as premiers. Five of the others tipped them to finish second.
For mine the Cowboys are the favourites to win the comp. After all, they made it through to last year's grand final without Thurston and Matt Scott, their co-captains and arguably still the best players in the game in their respective positions.
From that grand final team they have lost no one.
And not only do they have a fully fit and refreshed Thurston and Scott back on deck, but the recruitment of Jordan McLean, the premiership-winning Storm prop and a member of Australia's World Cup winning Kangaroos, is an unqualified boon.
On paper the Cowboys look superior to any other team in the premiership.
On a fair dinkum basis, there is not a weakness - unless too much star power can be construed a weakness.
Some sceptics will say only injury to key men will cruel them.
Well, that didn't happen last year. But oddly, their major strength - the JT factor - might well prove their downfall.
The mental drain his teammates will feel to send him out a winner, as he deserves, could be the stumbling block.
JT's final journey kicks off on Friday night. And it will start with a win in his 300th NRL appearance.
But the road ahead - 30 weeks to the big dance - is lined with many potential potholes.