Picking the Kangaroos’ best all-time XIII

John Coomer Roar Guru

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    With the World Cup about to start, here’s an attempt at comparing the stats to come up with Australia’s greatest XIII across all eras.

    For this exercise, I’ve only taken in to account each player’s achievements and longevity when wearing the green and gold jersey, not their interstate or club football careers.

    That selection criteria makes it different from the Team of the Century that was named to celebrate rugby league’s centenary year in 2008. Players’ career performances at all senior levels were considered when selecting that team.

    For example, prolific try-scoring winger Brian Bevan made that side, even though he never played for Australia. He only played eight games for Easts before playing the rest of his career (more than 600 games) in England.

    So here are my greatest Kangaroos, with some debatable omissions in a couple of positions, and a surprise or two. One or two players have been slotted into their non-preferred positions to squeeze them in, but in those cases, they have at least played in the position for Australia at some stage.

    Fullback: Graeme Langlands
    45 matches (18 at fullback), 20 tries, 73 goals, five years as captain, three as captain-coach, two World Cup wins.

    (Unlucky omissions: Clive Churchill, 37 Tests, 27 as captain, two years as captain-coach. Billy Slater, 25 Tests, 22 tries, one World Cup).

    Winger: Greg Inglis
    39 matches (six on the wing), 31 tries, one World Cup win.

    Greg Inglis dons the Rourke's drift jersey

    (Photo: NRL)

    Centre: Bob Fulton
    35 matches (16 in the centres), 25 tries, one year as captain, three World Cup wins.

    Centre: Reg Gasnier
    39 matches, 28 tries, six years as captain, three as captain-coach.

    (Very unlucky omission: Mal Meninga, 46 Tests, 21 tries, 99 goals, five years as captain, the only player to make four Kangaroo Tours to Great Britain and France, one World Cup win).

    Winger: Ken Irvine
    31 matches, 33 tries, 11 goals.

    Five-eighth: Darren Lockyer
    59 matches (34 at five-eighth), 35 tries, 31 goals, eight years as captain, one World Cup win.

    (Unlucky omissions: Brad Fittler, 40 Tests, 17 tries, six years as captain, two World Cup wins. Wally Lewis, 34 Tests, 11 tries, six years as captain, one World Cup win).

    Halfback: Johnathan Thurston
    39 matches (22 at halfback), 13 tries, 170 goals, one World Cup win.

    (Unlucky omission: Andrew Johns, 24 Tests (12 at halfback), 7 tries, 78 goals, two years as captain, two World Cup wins).

    Johnathon Thurston Australia Kangaroos Rugby League Anzac Test 2017

    (Image: NRL)

    Prop: Artie Beetson
    29 matches, 1 try, five years as captain, two World Cup wins.

    Hooker: Cameron Smith
    50 matches, 9 tries, 42 goals, seven years as captain, one World Cup win.

    Prop: Petero Civoniceva
    45 matches, 2 tries, three Tri/Nour Nations series wins.

    Second Row: Ron Coote
    23 matches, 13 tries, one year as captain, two World Cup wins.

    Second Row: Sam Thaiday
    34 matches (21 as a starting second-rower), 2 tries, one World Cup win.

    (Unlucky omission: Paul Gallen, 32 Tests (5 as a second-rower), 3 tries, one World Cup win).

    Lock: Johnny Raper
    39 matches, 11 tries, two years as captain, one World Cup win.

    For the record, this was the 2008 Team of the Century:

    1. Clive Churchill
    2. Brian Bevan
    3. Reg Gasnier
    4. Mal Meninga
    5. Ken Irvine
    6. Wally Lewis
    7. Andrew Johns
    8. Arthur Beetson
    9. Noel Kelly
    10. Duncan Hall
    11. Norm Provan
    12. Ron Coote
    13. Johnny Raper

    14. Graeme Langlands
    15. Dally Messenger
    16. Bob Fulton
    17. Frank Burge