IT will be remembered as arguably the greatest grand final in rugby league’s 108-year history.
Champion Johnathan Thurston kicked an 82nd-minute golden point field goal to snatch a 17-16 win for the North Queensland Cowboys over the Brisbane Broncos in front of 82,758 fans at Stadium Australia.
It gave the Cowboys their first title after 20 years. Thurston was always going to be the man and was the obvious choice for the Clive Churchill Medal as the most influential player in the Grand Final.
NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events and Minister for Sport, Stuart Ayres, said:
“Tonight we saw one of the most incredible NRL Grand Finals of all time. NSW is the best in the business when it comes to hosting major events, and we well and truly rolled out the blue carpet for our Queensland neighbours over the past seven days.
“The crowd and incredible atmosphere at Stadium Australia tonight once again reaffirms Sydney’s position as the home of Rugby League.”
Mr Ayres also congratulated Johnathan Thurston, winner of the Clive Churchill Medal as the best player on ground.
“JT has cemented his status as a future Immortal of Rugby League. Based on what we saw tonight at Stadium Australia, sporting fairytales do come true,” Mr Ayres added..
An elated Thurston said after fulltime, “this is No.1 all time for me – this is what we do, we set out every year to win a Premiership and I couldn’t be prouder of the boys.”
Premiership winning coach, Paul Green, said, “This is a little bit surreal, it’s hard to put into words what this means for the club and for the Townsville region.”
Retiring Broncos star, Justin Hodges, said: “This is the best group of blokes I’ve ever played with – they gave everything and I couldn’t be prouder.”
“JT is one of the greatest of all time and I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Approximately 25,000 international and domestic visitors descended on Sydney for the NRL Grand Final, injecting an estimated $17 million to the NSW economy.
A feature of 2015 Grand Final Day was how many fans packed into the Sydney Olympic Park precinct early in the day, with thousands of supporters revelling in the pre-game festivities.