JT freezes in terrifying TV moment
Johnathan Thurston regularly put his team on his back during his stellar rugby league career but this was a task too tall for the great man.
In a perfectly-executed April Fool's Day prank, the former Cowboys champion was completely hung out to dry by his Channel 9 colleagues during last night's Penrith win against Manly.
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It was a team effort but host James Bracey was the star of the stitch-up as he pretended to fall violently ill and was forced to walk off set just as a producer was counting down for the broadcast to return from a commercial break during the halftime break.
Thurston looked terrified as the producer called "live" but attempted to step up into hosting duties and save the day as commentator Allana Ferguson stood by and allowed him to fail miserably.
"Welcome back to Thursday night footy, we've just had a little bit of an accident here with James Bracey not feeling the greatest so I'm taking over," Thurston said.
"Allana, what a start to the half by the mighty Penrith Panthers. They kicked off with Viliame Kikau and the rest and we'll throw over to Freddy (Brad Fittler) now."
Thurston thought Fittler, who was providing commentary from the sideline during the game, was his get out of jail free card.
But that plan was quickly snuffed out when a producer said through his ear piece that Fittler wasn't available and to keep talking.
The second surprise left Thurston stunned and he struggled to get any words out before saying, "how about we look at some highlights, Allana".
As Thurston began to recover and talk about the dominance of the left side of the Panthers' attack, Bracey returned to the desk to drop a bomb.
"Hey JT, April Fool's baby," he said.
"That was a good get, I loved it," Thurston said.
"We had to pick someone and we've had a whole team working on that all week - and you think we're all mates," Bracey said.
"I had (a producer) in my ear saying 'throw to Freddy' and then 'Freddy's not there, get back on camera!' … man, it was a good get. It was a great get."
Originally published as JT freezes in terrifying TV moment