Johnathan Thurston has made an emotional post-State of Origin plea to the kids of the troubled north Queensland community of Aurukun – Just keep turning up for school.

As the Queensland Government and Noel Pearson’s Cape York Academy struggle to nut out a way forward on how do deal with a crime spree and the collapse of a brittle education system in the remote community, the Queensland legend took the opportunity to make the statement after the Maroons hung onto a hard-fought 6-4 win in Origin 1 at ANZ Stadium in Sydney before a capacity 80,000 plus crowd.

Speaking to a Channel Nine reporter after Queensland had held on for a narrow, gritty win, Thurston pleaded to the “kids of Aurukun, to just keep turning up to school.”

It was a statement that would have resonated across North Queensland as all parties try to sort out the complex issue that has divided the community and focussed attention on the troubled  community.

The tough Origin Game saw the Queenslanders go one-up after Josh Morris was awarded a try in the 66th minute by on-field referee Ben Cummins, but the decision was overturned after the NRL bunker judged the Blues centre had been held out by the Maroons defence.

It was hardly a popular decision with the massive crowd, but the Maroons were able to stay in front and claim the series opener with each side only posting one try, while the second half was a scoreless affair.

The Morris decision left the Blues seething, with hooker Robbie Farah venting his frustration with the refereeing performance.

“I thought we had some tough calls there in the second half”, Farah told ABC Grandstand.

“I guess it’s not for me to comment on but it is pretty disappointing some of the things that went against us.”

Dane Gagai scored the Maroons’ try late in the first half, while Boyd Cordner had opened the scoring for the Blues in the 25th minute and attention will now turn to State of Origin II, which will be played at Brisbane’s Lang Park on June 22.

The Maroons dominated both possession and territory in the opening 15 minutes, completing all their sets through repeated raids on the Blues’ line.

Blues’ coach Laurie Daley was furious at the night’s refereeing, and has demanded the two referees are dumped for the next clash in Brisbane.

With ABC copy