Sunday 21 January 2018

An image of a rugby player's daughter holding her dark-skinned doll sparks NRL talking point

Johnathan Thurston and his daughter celebrate the win. Getty Images
Johnathan Thurston and his daughter celebrate the win. Getty Images

Heather Saul

An image of an Australian rugby player holding his young daughter quickly became the talking point of Australia’s National Rugby League Final overnight.

North Queensland Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston scored the winning goal of the match against the Brisbane Broncos on Sunday by 16-17. The game, described as one of the best grand finals of all time, was significant as both teams had Indigenous Australian captains for the first time in NRL history.

After beating the Broncos, an emotional Thurston was pictured sat on the pitch, crying and holding his two-year-old daughter Frankie, who was clutching a dark-skinned doll.

The image provoked a strong reaction on social media, with many praising Thurston for giving his child a toy that promotes inclusiveness and diversity. A number of people singled it out as the strongest picture from the tournament.

Dreams do come true... #NRLGF

Posted by NRL - National Rugby League on Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Broncos captain Justin Hodges was full of praise for Thurston after his victory.

“His legacy in my eyes is as one of the greatest players to have ever played the game,” he told ABC News.

Thurston's Wikipedia page was also updated to describe him as “a God and co-captain of National Rugby League team the North Queensland Cowboys” shortly after.

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