Johnathan Thurston will headline the 2017 NRL Auckland Nines marking the the first time he has contested the event.
The Cowboys, Maroons and Kangaroos halfback has comitted to playing in the February pre-season showpiece in a sign the 33-year-old could be entering his last season of top flight.
Thurston has a busy schedule in the lead-up and will feature for Australia through the Four Nations tournament which concludes at the end of November.
Usually one to take a well-deserved break at the end of a long season packed with rep commitments and finals footy, Thurston’s inclusion at the Nines could be seen as the champion No.7 ticking off another box in his decorated career before a swansong season.
Thurston is off-contract at the end of 2017 and turns 34 in April.
Unlike Cameron Smith who is expected to play on until 2019, Thurston has held off putting pen to paper to extend his current Cowboys deal.
Thurston, who made a cameo appearance at this year's tournament in the Beko Legends Big Kick competition, told NRL.com he was excited at the prospect of playing the modified version.
"I had a small taste of the NRL Nines this year, and the atmosphere was simply incredible," Thurston said. "I made up my mind right away that I would be back to play in the 2017 tournament – and hopefully lead the Cowboys to another Nines title.
"The guys who played in 2014 when we won it have all said just what an incredible experience that was – and it's something I can't wait to find out for myself."
Tickets can be purchased now via ticketek at www.ticketek.co.nz/nines.