THERE was hardly any ink left in Johnathon Thurston's permanent marker on Saturday when he made a guest appearance at the Paul Bowman Challenge in Proserpine.
Players and fans, both young and old waited it out in the sun to steal an autograph and five seconds with the Australian and North Queensland Cowboys halfback.
The Paul Bowman Challenge offered under-9 rugby league players the opportunity to come together from across the state to play in the carnival.
The winner of the carnival was the Burdekin Roosters with the participation award presented to the Claremont Bears.
Thurston kicked off the day's proceedings with a speech on the importance of good sportsmanship and despite his media presence last week for the wrong reasons, he was focused on the importance of being a role model for younger players.
“It is a huge honour to be here with the kids,” he said.
“At that age (being a good sport) is what (the young players) should be doing. They should be having respect for match officials and people that show up.”
And the kids were chuffed to have Thurston come along for the day.
“It is pretty cool,” said Gus Bermingham who played in the carnival a few year's ago.
“It could help the kids that are playing, give them more confidence and want to play better because he's here,” he said.
“It was good how he told (the players) to have good sportsmanship.”
24 teams spanning from Sarina to Edmonton came to Proserpine for the two-day carnival.
Paul Bowman said there were record numbers in attendance at the carnival this year.
He said it was important for the players, in their first carnival, to learn about respect when playing.
“The code of conduct is a big focus,” he said.
“It is good we have a large focus on that and I hope we can start these players off on the right foot.”
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.