Johnathan Thurston or Joey, just who is the best?
CHAMPION halfback Johnathan Thurston may yet look back on 2015 as his greatest season, but only if he takes the Cowboys club to a maiden premiership win in its 20th anniversary year.
Thurston will pass Newcastle legend Andrew Johns when he plays his 250th NRL game this weekend at home against the Warriors - just one week before celebrating his 32nd birthday when the Cowboys play Newcastle on the road.
After a slow start to the season, Thurston's outstanding form in the past three games - wins against the Storm, Panthers and Rabbitohs - has sparked the predictable debate as to whether a premiership victory with the Cowboys would elevate him above Immortal Johns in the list of all-time great halfbacks.
While rugby league fans on both sides of the border have their opinions, the argument is really irrelevant because in their own unique way, both will be remembered like all the greats as very special players.
One thing is certain, though, Thurston is playing some amazing football and is definitely a man on a mission. Next month he can help Australia avenge last year's Four Nations series loss to New Zealand by helping the Kangaroos win the Anzac Test in Brisbane.
As the only player to play in every game of Queensland's eight series' Origin domination of NSW, he can also help the Maroons regain the interstate shield.
But the jewel in the crown for Thurston would definitely be to hold the JJ Giltinan Shield aloft on grand final day on October 4.
If he were to achieve those goals, then an unprecedented fourth Dally M Medal would surely be his.
Thurston this week zoomed into Dally M favouritism, but I have no doubt he would swap those individual honours for a 2015 premiership with the Cowboys.
The playmaker has already been involved in one grand final victory, coming off the bench for Canterbury in its thrilling 16-13 win over the Sydney Roosters in 2004.
A year later he was back again, this time helping North Queensland reach the season decider, only to lose 30-16 to joint venture club Wests Tigers.
Thurston would admit leading the Cowboys to premiership glory would be the ultimate way to wind down what has been an unbelievable career for club, state and country, one which looks to have more chapters to write in the next few years.
He already holds the record for the most points scored for Queensland and Australia, records formerly held by current Maroons coach Mal Meninga, andneeds just two more goals to overtake former Parramatta centre Mick Cronin's record of 141goals for Australia.
Whether those achievements make Thurston a better player than Johns is merely splitting hairs.