MOST fans would agree with Johnathan Thurston that his performance in Origin II was way below the exceptional level he has set himself in a six-season period playing at the elite level of our game.
He rated it his worst game in 23 Origin appearances. It was perhaps the least impact JT has had in a game of that status.
Rumours were circulating before the game that Thurston was in doubt, and when interviewed afterwards he was not his bouncy self. And nor was he on Friday night when Brad Fittler grabbed him for a chat after the Cowboys had beaten the Broncos.
I doubt whether I have seen the usually effervescent Thurston appear so physically and mentally spent. He had just played his heart out for the Cowboys, steered them to a significant win, but was clearly exhausted.
So the question begs to be asked - should Thurston have been rested from the Broncos game?
In the lead up to Origin II, the champion five-eighth admitted he was feeling fatigued and said the demand on the elite players was a joke.
Before that second Origin match he had played three games in nine days, then two in three days after a 10-day break.
And what about Matt Scott, whose mental state must be questionable considering the health issues facing his mum.
He has had the same rigorous program as Thurston and arguably plays a more physically-taxing role.
Sure the two premiership points on Friday night were significant for the Cowboys. And getting a win over big brother no doubt gives all players a huge confidence boost. But will the physical and mental burden on team leaders Thurston and Scott come back to bite the Cowboys come September?
Broncos coach Anthony Griffin was questioned last year when he rested the majority of his rep players after their big games. Fans felt robbed at not seeing their best team out on the field and even his players aired their grievances, but his decision was well and truly vindicated.
Almost without fail in their history the Broncos have faltered with a post-Origin hangover, but not in 2011.
From round 19 onwards the Broncos won nine of 10 matches before falling to eventual premiers Manly in the grand final eliminator.
Griffin has continued the policy this season with only interchange forwards Matt Gillett and Ben Hannant backing up after Origins I and II.
Time will tell if his team meets with similar success in Brisbane's run home.
The same assessment will surely be made of Neil Henry and his decision to dig for points and play an obviously-exhausted Thurston.