The Roar
The Roar


The top ten Indigenous players in rugby league history

Indigenous All Stars perform their War Cry. (AAP Image/Darren Pateman)
Roar Guru
24th May, 2017
1792 Reads

There have been some superb Indigenous players over the years. From Australian captains and Dally M winners to grand final winners and Churchill medalists, this top ten list of the best Australian Indigenous players to step foot on a rugby league field has it all.

10. Nathan Blacklock
A try-scoring machine, Blacklock would be the league’s leading try scorer for three years in a row and a 60-metre individual effort in the 1999 grand final was one of the best of all time.

Although he only represented New South Wales five times, he still makes the list.

9. Matt Sing
I have always had a soft spot for Matt Sing. His skill and talent was always so underrated. With many appearances for Australia and Queensland, he goes down as one of the best players to never a win a grand final. It would be hard to argue that he does not deserve his spot

8. Wendell Sailor
Big Dell is one of those players who is almost once in a generation. He was a complete game changer. Sailor turned the winger from the skinny fast guy to the muscle bound monster that would easy step into the front row if needed.

A Queensland and Australian representative, he was a try-scoring machine. Not only this, he successfully changed to Union and played for his country to start a trend of cross-over athletes. When he returned to league, Sailor played in the first indigenous all-stars game, scoring a brilliant try in the first five minutes.

7. Sam Thaiday
A modern day Indigenous warrior, Thaiday is extremely proud of his heritage. One of the best players over the last decade, he was in the last Broncos side to taste premiership glory.

6. Gorden Tallis
The Raging Bull was the second rower of a generation. Powerful, strong and just plain scary, Tallis was one of the hardest players of his time. Winning multiple premierships and being a former Dally M second-rower of the year, Tallis will always be remembered as a hard man of the game.

5. Greg Inglis
Inglis is a Meninga 2.0 (wit exception to his goal kicking ability). Big, strong, fast and skilful. A two-time premiership winner, Clive Churchill Medalist, Queensland and Australian representative, as well as being the current captain of the indigenous team – Inglis is a true champion.


4. Steve Renouf
A breakout player for the Broncos in the 90s, Renouf was a try-scoring machine for the Broncos, Queensland and Australia. His 1992 grand final try is still being compared to today’s game and will forever set the standard of how to get it done on the competition’s biggest day. One of the best centres of the 90s.

3. Johnathon Thruston
Dally M Medals, Golden Boots, the hero of the 2015 grand final and Clive Churchill Medalist, Thurston is the Indigenous player of this generation. There are too many accolades to mention here, but he has failed to captain his state or country, which is why he comes in narrowly at no.3, rather than two or one.

Johnathon Thurston North Queensland Cowboys Rugby League NRL Finals 2016

(AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

2. Laurie Daley
Daley was one of the best of his time for the Raiders, New South Wales and Australia. He would captain all three and win the Dally M for five-eighth and captain of the year. He is also the current coach for the Indigenous All-Stars and the Blues, continuing to achieve in the game.

1. Arthur Beetson
There is no doubt big Artie is number one. He was the first Indigenous player to captain his country, the first Queensland Origin captain and a premiership winner with the Roosters. He paved the way not just for Indigenous players, but all players to achieve regardless of their background. He was named an immortal in 2004.

Other honourable mentions include Anthony Mundine, Jamie Soward, Cliff Lyons, Preston Campbell and Rhys Wesser.

Do you agree with my list? Who is your favourite indigenous player?