James Cook University has recognised the outstanding scientific contributions of Queensland rugby league player Johnathan Thurston by awarding him an honorary doctorate in physics.
In a lavish ceremony in Townsville, a clearly emotional Thurston thanked the tertiary education sector for its support of rugby league and expressed the hope that his degree might inspire other footballers to seek post-graduate qualifications.
“It’s one thing to be known as JT,” quipped Thurston. “It’s another to be JT PhD.”
The university’s citation for the doctorate heaped particular praise on the theoretical questions raised by Thurston’s trademark ‘show and go’ and his career-long ability to do things with the oval-shaped ball that defied the laws of physics.
University Vice-Chancellor Sandra Harding says that Thurston’s popularisation of science will long be remembered.
“Other than ALF the TV alien from the 1980s, I can’t think of anyone who has brought North Queenslanders together as much to talk about science. JT’s mad skills with a footy just blow my mind. I mean, what’s with those weird-arse banana kicks?”
North Queensland Cowboys coach Neil Henry is also ecstatic.
“This win really takes a load off the Cowboys’ minds this season. The supporters have been praying for us to win something for nearly 20 years. And now, thanks to Dr Thurston, we’ve finally got that monkey off our backs.”