State of Origin hero Johnathan Thurston has been named the 2018 Queenslander of the Year for his work off the rugby league field.
The North Queensland Cowboys captain received the honour for his work as an Indigenous mentor at an awards function in Brisbane on Wednesday night.
His determination to play with a season-ending shoulder injury may be well known, but it is his less-publicised work with organisations like Achieving Results Through Indigenous Education that got him over the line for the title.
Thurston is an ambassador for the Apunipima Cape York Health Council's anti-ice campaign and the Queensland Reconciliation Awards.
Earlier this year he also helped launch the $9.5 million Cowboys House, which is a home for 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from remote parts of north Queensland.
Thurston beat Brisbane Broncos chief executive and brain cancer survivor Paul White, homeless women's advocate Rochelle Courtenay and pioneering maternal-fetal surgeon Dr Glenn Gardner to take out the award.
Hearing health specialist and bionics advocate Dr Dimity Dornan was named Queensland's Senior Australian of the year, while veterans' champion Phillip Thompson won the Queensland Young Australian of the Year award.
Children's entertainer Philippa 'Pip' Russell was announced as Queensland's Local Hero.
The recipients will join winners from other states and territories at an awards ceremony in Canberra on January 25, where they will compete for the national titles.
Thurston is now in the running to be named the 2018 Australian of the Year.
National Australia Day Council chief executive Jenny Barbour said the Queensland award winners reflected the diverse ways in which people across the state were achieving and contributing to the community.
"The stories of the Queensland Award recipients inspire us all to consider how we approach challenges, how we treat others and how we too can make a difference," she said in a statement.
This story first appeared on Brisbane Times.