Johnathan Thurston initially though the phone call from from John Bertrand was a “gee up”.
But the rugby league great soon had it confirmed by Bertrand, the Sport Australia Hall Of Fame chairman, that he is among the honorary body’s seven new inductees.
Four-time World Cup Socceroo Tim Cahill, Olympic gold medallists Lydia Lassila, Nova Peris and Kim Brennan, Paralympic legend Kurt Fearnley and rowing coach Tim McLaren will also be welcomed formally into the hall of fame at its annual function in Sydney on October 16.
At the lunch, two current members will also be elevated to legend status.
“I thought it was a gee up, but I was very, very honoured,” Thurston said of Bertrand’s news.
“It’s very humbling and I’m very proud.”
Thurston is the only four-time Dally M medallist and has played the most consecutive games in State Of Origin – 36 for Queensland.
He was a pivotal player in North Queensland’s inaugural 2015 NRL premiership and also had a decorated international career.
Cahill had a 15-year career with the Socceroos and is Australia’s leading goalscorer with 50 goals in 108 internationals.
He is Australia’s top World Cup scorer with five and was the first Socceroo to score at the tournament in 2006.
Lassila recovered from a serious knee injury that threatened her career to win gold in aerial skiing at the 2010 Winter Olympics and she was the first Australian woman to compete at five winter Games.
Peris, like Thurston, is an Australian Indigenous sporting icon.
She was the first Indigenous Australian to win an Olympic gold medal, as a member of the Hockeyroos team at the 1996 Games, and then went to two more Olympics in athletics as a sprinter.
Rower Brennan is the third Olympic champion among the inductees, winning the single sculls at the Rio Games as well as two world titles. She has the full collection of Olympic medals and went to three Games.
Fearnley won three Paralympic gold medals in a stellar career that spanned two decades and his wheelchair marathon wins featured iconic races such as New York, Chicago, Tokyo and London.
He won the Hall Of Fame’s prestigious Don award in 2018 for his outstanding career and advocacy of disability rights.
McLaren will be inducted as a general member for his involvement in rowing across more than four decades.
He was in the quad sculls crew that won silver at the 1984 Olympics and then became a renowned coach in the sport.