My imaginary XVII: The best league players I’ve ever seen

Mark Campbell Roar Guru

By Mark Campbell, Mark Campbell is a Roar Guru

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102 Have your say

    In 2008, the NRL released the top 100 players to have played the game in Australia.

    Since this time I have reflected on the players that I have seen in my lifetime. Without giving my age away, my memory stretches back to the very late 80s. As a result, I feel now that I can name my best team.

    To do this, I set myself two criteria. They were as follows.

    a) I had to have seen the player play live
    b) They needed to have at least played fifty matches of elite first grade level in Australia

    On this basis, I assembled the following team.

    1. Fullback – Billy Slater
    I simply have not seen a better fullback. His speed, his athleticism, and skill are unbelievable. He is vocal and instructs his defenders well.

    He is always on the move and just seems to be in the right spot each time the football is kicked down-field. His recovery from making a covering tackle to re-join the defence and participate in the next play is second to none.

    Honestly, when he retires and in years to come, everyone of this generation will compare each fullback to Billy Slater just as the previous generations did with Clive Churchill.

    2. Wing – Greg Inglis
    I get it, he plays at fullback for Souths, in the centres for Queensland and Australia and won the Clive Churchill Medal at five-eighth.

    So, why on the wing? To put it simply, I wanted him on my team. Also, I have seen him play on the wing; he destroyed the Kiwi defenders in Melbourne for the tri-nations when he raced down the field to get Australia back in the game.

    His size and speed make him perfect to play rugby league. Easily the best New South Welshman to play for Queensland. All jokes aside, an unbelievable talent who I hope can overcome injury and continue at the elite level for many years to come.

    Greg Inglis of the Maroons scores a try as Matt Moylan tackles

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    3. Centre – Mal Meninga (Captain)
    Unlucky in my book not to be made an immortal ahead of Andrew Johns. He participated in four Kangaroo tours which had never been accomplished before and I doubt will ever happen again.

    He destroyed defenders with his power, but more to this he was an inspiration to his teammates. He made other players better, he gave them belief and left them in no doubt what was needed to get the result desired.

    A real leader of a great Canberra team, a strong Queensland team and of the Kangaroos. No much more can be said about such a strong player. With his leadership skills, he is easily my choice as captain of this team.

    4. Centre – Laurie Daley
    In partnering with Mal Meninga – yes, remember when the outside centre went with the inside centre – I do. Laurie Daley would offer the finishing touch. I hear your concerns – he played more five-eighth than at centre. I don’t care.

    He had a great footballing mind and could pick apart a defensive line with ease. He was a solid support player who set up more tries for his teammates than going for the glory himself.

    Remember, under his leadership, NSW had many dominant seasons over a great Queensland outfit. As well as this, he was part of the Canberra and Kangaroo outfits that enjoyed so much success. I felt it would be an injustice not to have him on my best team.

    5. Wing – Israel Folau
    I will admit, this was my hardest selection. I missed some of the great wingers of the 70s and 80s. I don’t feel there has been that many absolute sensations in this position to choose from in my time watching the game.

    Although he only played 91 NRL games, I felt that if he had stayed, he would have been a sensation for many years to follow. The AFL targeted not many other athletes, and if it weren’t for an administration bungle, he would be back playing rugby league instead of union.

    Even now, he is easily one of the Wallabies’ best. Just a shame he didn’t stay in our great game.

    6. Five-eighth – Johnathan Thurston
    He plays five-eighth to Cooper Cronk, so despite him being the North Queensland Cowboys halfback, I’m keeping him in the six jersey.

    No doubt is going to be an immortal of the sport. He lifts his teammates and can single-handedly win games. Very few players can do that. His record speaks for itself.

    He is a machine on the field – directing and instructing his team as he unpicks the defence with ridiculous ease. The superb kicking game only adds to his arsenal. I put him down as the third best player that I have ever seen.

    7. Halfback – Andrew Johns
    For some, he should not be an immortal. They refer to his off-field antics. I say bugger that.

    His off-field antics would only have impaired his performance on the field. He invented new kicks, which no one had seen before. He could tackle like a solid backrower.

    The best defending halfback the game has ever seen. His involvement in matches shaped their outcome.

    Alex Ferguson – the former Manchester United Manager – when talking about skill on the soccer pitch said: “[if] you see class, excitement, entertainment, there is an obligation to acknowledge it.”

    This quote applies to the rugby league genius that is Andrew Johns. In terms of pure brilliance, he is the best player I have seen.

    8. Prop – Shane Webcke
    In the front row, you need size, strength, determination and a will to defeat any opponent. This man had it all in bucket loads. I still remember the Test Match in the early 2000s against the Great Britain team that came for a mid-season Test where Webcke annihilated them.

    He played against the Roosters in the grand final with a broken arm – madness! He never took a backward step on the field or off it. A pleasure to watch.

    9. Hooker/fummy half – Cameron Smith
    I get it, a natural choice. I put the role as a dummy half because really since the 80s scrums are no longer contested and with the ten-metre rule, hookers really are now just an extra half on the field.

    His statistics say it all. He is just so dominant it is ridiculous. He may set records that will never be broken. He has achieved everything.

    Look at the 2017 calendar year – grand final win, State of Origin series win and the World Cup. He probably is the best overall player the game has ever seen. I only put Johns ahead of him, but not by much. An immortal in waiting.

    Cameron Smith NRL Rugby League Melbourne Storm Grand Final 2017

    (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

    10. Prop – Glen Lazarus
    The Brick with eyes laid the platform for some of the game’s most successful teams. Firstly, the Green Machine of the late 80s and early 90s enjoyed his service as they went about winning titles.

    Then he moves to Brisbane and enjoys success there before helping Melbourne win their inaugural title. All the while he’s helping NSW set a dominance over Queensland and maintaining Australia’s dominance on the international scene.

    He wasn’t one of my favourite players, but I could not justify leaving him out of the team. Ultimately, he possessed the gifts that all front rowers dream of and used them to the best of his ability.

    11. Second row – Bradley Clyde
    I feel that this man does not get the credit he deserves. He was integral to Canberra’s success and NSW for that matter.

    Ran hard, tackled hard and played for the full 80 minutes. He was a workhorse of epic proportions. He set the benchmark for all future locks and backrowers. He became the measuring stick of which all future players would strive to equal. Just pure class.

    12. Second row – Sam Burgess
    Probably a Souths fan? Yes I am! Even if he didn’t play for Souths I would still rate him as an absolute legend.

    He is ferocious on the field, but a good lad off it. He led the way for Souths this year as he has done so for every year he has been at the club.

    From his early Test debut when he put the big hit on Fui Fui Moi Moi to when he sidestepped his way to the try line for Great Britain against Australia he has shown his strength and skill.

    Further to this, who can forget when he played with a busted cheekbone for South Sydney in their first grand final win in 43 years? He is easily the best British import that I have seen play in the NRL.

    13. Lock – Brad Fitler

    For the majority of his career, he played five-eighth, so I get the confusion of why I would select him at lock.

    Similar to my selection of Laurie Daley, he was simply too good to leave out of my starting thirteen.

    He did play some games in the lock position and was still just as effective. It is important to not let his aloofness fool you – he had the talent.

    He was a key reason why NSW were so dominant and a key factor in why the Roosters made so many grand finals in the early 2000’s. He had a deadly step, a good pass, could tackle and leadership qualities that elevated him above others. A genuine talent.

    My bench
    14. Darren Lockyer

    No doubt is going to be an immortal. His statistics show it all. However, I felt that Slater as a fullback and that Thurston at five-eighth were better selections.

    I know many would drop Johns and put Thurston at halfback and move Lockyer into the six position. However, since this is my list and I think that Johns was the best; Lockyer makes his way onto the bench.

    Though, this does not diminish my thinking of his footballing skills. An absolute champion.

    15. Adrian Morley
    Who else has been sent off in a Test Match in the first 12 seconds? This event showed his fire-brand style. He could destroy forward packs with his runs and tackles. I know he spent a lot of time on the sideline through suspension, but he had everything you look for in a forward. A pity he had to go back to England so early.

    16. Sonny Bill Williams
    Yes, I know some of you are shaking your heads and rolling your eyes. Despite this, you cannot deny his skill.

    I know in his early years he was injury prone before doing a runner to France, so we didn’t see the best of his capabilities until he returned to the Roosters.

    In his two seasons there, he showed his character. I wished he had stayed in the game. In his return to union, it was his offload that finally sunk the Wallabies in the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup final. He could put on a massive hit, had speed and a great offload.

    Moreover, he is a positive influence on his teammates. It is simple, if you were wealthy and were wanting to build a team, you would want Sonny Bill on your side.

    Roosters' Shaun Kenny-Dowall (right) celebrates with Sonny Bill Williams after scoring. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    17. Ruben Wiki
    This last position was equally tough to fill. However, I went with Ruben because of his passion. Over his career, he played in the backs and the forwards but still managed to maintain solid performances.

    A cornerstone of the New Zealand team and although he didn’t get the success with the Warriors he was consistently one of their best players. I just don’t remember seeing him having a bad game.

    Notable omissions
    Wally Lewis – Yes, he was still playing when I can remember the game, but with my set criteria, I never saw him play live. If I did, I would have him as my six and Thurston would go to the bench.

    Steve Renouf – A class centre. If people have him as their main centre, then I really couldn’t disagree with you. Except that I thought Daley was more versatile and so put him ahead of Renouf.

    I know when selecting the best team personal choices, preferences and how long you have been watching the game would affect the selections. So imagine this, if you had to build a team with all the best players that you had ever seen play live, who would be on your team?

    Have Your Say

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    The Crowd Says (102)

    • December 12th 2017 @ 9:00am
      Sammy said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:00am | ! Report

      Great team.

      • December 12th 2017 @ 12:34pm
        Peter Phelps said | December 12th 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

        I agree, its a great selection but I think you have over egged how good Johns was. I think Cronk should have had the 7 spot and Johns to the bench. I think Lockyer in a bench spot is about right. He did a lot of good stuff but there are other options that you rightly list. I don’t think that Morley should be in this list.

        • December 13th 2017 @ 2:42pm
          Aem said | December 13th 2017 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

          Cronk is a type of halfback that is very rare (in terms of style – it’s so unusual to find high-output, low-error creative players who don’t really have any weaknesses… he has been excellent).

          He’s still not in the class of A.Johns.

          Nobody short of Thurston is – and even then I’d have Thurston falling just short (can’t split them with the ball, but Johns was a better defender – not a good way to judge a halfback, but when you can’t split the rest of their games… what’s left?)

          • December 13th 2017 @ 5:54pm
            Peter Phelps said | December 13th 2017 @ 5:54pm | ! Report

            Guess we differ on Johns, I just do not rate him that highly. I am a Cronk fan because he was so clinical at what he did, he knew his role and was superb at it. I also think that he helped marshal those around far more than was apparent on the field. I know that Johns was good but I don’t think he was as good as Cronk/Thurston and I have had the pleasure to see them all play over many years.

            • December 13th 2017 @ 6:09pm
              Steve said | December 13th 2017 @ 6:09pm | ! Report

              Johns and Thurston 2 best players i have ever seen and i go back to the 60’s when players were real footballers not mechanical one’s of today.

    • December 12th 2017 @ 9:07am
      Anthony Mundine said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

      No credibility without me.

      • Roar Guru

        December 12th 2017 @ 9:48am
        Nat said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:48am | ! Report

        Good thing you came to the Broncos to get yourself a premiership choc. Not that it’s recognised anywhere now.

      • December 13th 2017 @ 10:02pm
        Goerge said | December 13th 2017 @ 10:02pm | ! Report

        Gold Brother . That’s why we love the Choc!

    • Roar Guru

      December 12th 2017 @ 9:08am
      The Barry said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

      Great team.

      It’s a pretty tough exercise because the line can get clouded between who you like more versus who was the better player.

      SBW is a brave pick. I don’t disagree in terms of talent but I expect that’s where you’ll get most heat.

      Folau is the only player I really disagree with (if it’s possible to disagree with someone about the best players they’ve seen play ?). He was a very good young player but I think his achievements have been exaggerated a little and I just don’t think he had long enough in the game. If he can’t back and dominated like SBW then fair enough…

      I think I’d try and pick line by keeping players in their predominant positions. Outside backs like Renouf, Shearer, O’Connor as examples don’t get the credit they deserve because there are so many great halves to try and squeeze into teams.

      I’ll gave a quick go at mine:

      1. Slater
      2. O’Connor
      3. Inglis
      4. Renouf
      5. Grothe
      6. Lamb / Lewis
      7. Johns
      8. Webcke
      9. Smith
      10. Lazarus
      11. Roberts
      12. Clyde
      13. Kennedy

      That’s quick and dirty but pretty close to mine I reckon.

      • Roar Guru

        December 12th 2017 @ 9:57am
        Nat said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        Yeah Forgot about O’Connor. No Daley or Fitler TB? Utility value mean not THE best in one position maybe?

        • Roar Guru

          December 12th 2017 @ 11:35am
          BigJ said | December 12th 2017 @ 11:35am | ! Report

          I love these sort of articles, causes great debate, love it. I suppose that I had better have a crack at it.

          1. Slater
          2. Inglis.
          3. Renouf
          4. Meninga
          6. Lewis
          7. Langer
          8. Lazarus
          9. Smith
          10. Webcke
          11. Tallis
          12. Clyde
          13. Fitler
          14. Lockyer
          15. S.Burgees
          16. Thorn
          17. M. Scott

          I reckon that’s a pretty good team for the handful of games I have seen live.

          • December 12th 2017 @ 2:11pm
            not so super said | December 12th 2017 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

            i think you need some more Qlders in that team

          • Roar Guru

            December 12th 2017 @ 2:54pm
            Nat said | December 12th 2017 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

            And you say you’re not a Bronco fan?? Willie Carne over Sailor for me in that team. With Alfie, they were the original cross-kick try merchants.

            • Roar Guru

              December 12th 2017 @ 3:13pm
              BigJ said | December 12th 2017 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

              I said I was a Broncos fan from 1988 to 1998, once the Storm came in a switched over. Plus I was going by the blokes I have seen live, with only seeing about 10 games live, not much to pick from.

              • Roar Guru

                December 13th 2017 @ 8:18am
                The Barry said | December 13th 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

                Serious question:

                When did you pick up your next team, who was it and why?

                Also – when you picked up the Storm you dropped the Broncos. But when you picked up other teams you added them and didn’t drop them.

                So why did you drop the Broncos and not other teams?

                Not a plss take (can’t believe I’m saying this) genuinely interested in your thought process…

        • Roar Guru

          December 12th 2017 @ 12:50pm
          The Barry said | December 12th 2017 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

          Freddy and Daley (and many others) were great players but were either better centres than Inglis and Renouf (or Meninga) or better locks than Kennedy, Clyde, Pearce, etc.

          I don’t think so.

          If you’re drafting a top 10 or 20 list of players then it’s going to be dominated by 6s & 7s, but I don’t think that necessarily means they’re better than the specialists in their alternate positions.

          • Roar Guru

            December 12th 2017 @ 12:52pm
            The Barry said | December 12th 2017 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

            Having said all of that I certainly wouldn’t argue too hard against anyone who put Daley in the 4 and Fittler the 13. Very valid selections.

            • December 13th 2017 @ 9:47am
              mushi said | December 13th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

              The 13 also really swings on are we talking an 80s/90s lock or are we talking a modern day 3rd middle forward?

              • Roar Guru

                December 15th 2017 @ 7:50am
                The Barry said | December 15th 2017 @ 7:50am | ! Report

                Yeah, lock is an interesting position.

                In my early days the lock was a workhorse, think Price, Pearce, Hatch.

                Then there was the ball playing lock. Scott Hill, Fittler, Travis Norton.

                Now the third middle third forward Galen, Trbojevic, McGuire.

      • December 17th 2017 @ 11:44am
        Mark Campbell said | December 17th 2017 @ 11:44am | ! Report

        The Barry – Good team. I would have chosen O’Connor on my wing in place of Israel, however, had never seen him play.
        BigJ – Matt Scott was a close call for me as well. I have him third behind Lazarus and Webcke. I was close to putting him on my bench. Though, I was a massive fan of Wiki’s so went with him instead.

    • December 12th 2017 @ 9:20am
      KingCowboy said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:20am | ! Report

      Love the pick of Morley, the Roosters owe a big thank you to Graham Murray for bring him over from Leeds. Couldn’t stand the Roosters team through the early 2000’s but loved him as a player. Also would have Matty Scott over Wiki but that is just my opinion

      JT and Johns have been neck and neck for who has been the greatest half of the modern era but I think JT just piped him with the 2015 P’ship. Both great players!

      • Roar Guru

        December 12th 2017 @ 9:40am
        The Barry said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:40am | ! Report

        Good call on Matt Scott KC.

        I was rolling Scott, Webcke and Lazo around…so close.

        • Roar Guru

          December 12th 2017 @ 9:52am
          Nat said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

          I’d have Webke and Scott on par (maybe Webke for longevity only) but not sure I’ve seen better then Lazo in every aspect. Tough runs, offloads and cover tackles – well ahead of his time.

          • December 12th 2017 @ 10:38am
            KingCowboy said | December 12th 2017 @ 10:38am | ! Report

            Agree with what both you boys have written, three great players and seem to me like really low maintenance players who just did the tough work required.

            TB find the selection of Ben Kennedy very interesting. I don’t disagree with it. Always saw him as really good player but not a great player. However you only hear great things about him from coaches and players from his clubs.

            • Roar Guru

              December 12th 2017 @ 12:56pm
              The Barry said | December 12th 2017 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

              I just thought Kennedy was always as tough as any player on the field and had a fair bit of skill about him relative to his position. Most of all it was that killer attitude of always wanting to beat the bloke in front of him and dragging his team mates with him.

              I think that competitiveness and force of will led him to be a better player than just the sum of his attributes.

              • December 12th 2017 @ 4:41pm
                Larry1950 said | December 12th 2017 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

                Fittler out of position at lock over Lewis who played the first origin there, not likely(SoO MoM awards determine that). Not a great fan of Johns in that era because he excelled in the split comp era & failed against the Qld no-names that Vautin coached. I’d go Thurston at half and Lewis at 5/8, purely on SoO form. Loved Kennedy but can’t possibly top Clyde. Petro Civoniciva would oust Wiki on the bench for his longevity in SoO. Sam Burgess is not there yet, that’s more based on emotion than longevity & consistency to date. As for SBW, he’s out of his depth in this company no matter which opinions you accept from all responses.
                Sorry TB, but O’connor, Lamb & Grothe can’t make the top 17, despite their magnificent abilities. Maybe in the second 17 team. Rogers had both NSW wingers covered for ability while Lamb couldn’t really crack any of the first rep sides during his career.

              • Roar Guru

                December 12th 2017 @ 5:48pm
                The Barry said | December 12th 2017 @ 5:48pm | ! Report

                Hi Larry

                I was born at the end of 72 so missed the best of guys like Rogers, Cronin, Price, etc.

                Grothe was devastating at his best – albeit that time was brief. In that 81-83 period he was brilliant. I’d pick him in a second.

                O’Connor is one of the most under rated players of all time for mine. Fast, could step, tackle, bang goals over from anywhere.

                Lamb is a biased pick for sure and a little tongue in cheek. I will say he never got a decent crack at rep footy despite being a World Cup winner, part of Origins first clean sweep and playing all 20 games in a kangaroo tour. Was picked but pulled out of the 82 & 90 kangaroo tours

                His club record stacks up well against almost anyone you could pick.

                Three premierships, one as skipper, one Dally M, one Rothmans, Dally M runner up three times and third once. Dally M 5/8 of the year seven times. More than any player has won the same positional award. All in an era of great 5/8s. Dally M players player three times.

                Leading try scorer twice, leading point scorer once.

                When he retired he’d played more games than anyone and second(?) in tries scored. He got 164 from 350 games – phenomenal for a 5/8 and retired with over 1400 points.

                As I said, happy to admit to being biased here but Lambs skills shouldn’t be overlooked. He was a genius and his club record stacks up favourably against any of the greats. The thing holding him back as you correctly point out is that he never had the performances at rep level that others had.

                But…I think it sticks in the craw a little of any Bulldogs fan that someone who was so regularly picked as the best 5/8 in the game, so regularly in the top three players in the game, so regularly picked as the players’ best player in the game, scored so many tries and points and won premierships got so few chances at rep footy other than as an utility.

              • Roar Guru

                December 12th 2017 @ 6:52pm
                Nat said | December 12th 2017 @ 6:52pm | ! Report

                I grew playing with Travis Norton. Should hear the stories he tells about jumping into Lamb’s shoes at the Dogs. A bit of pressure there.

    • Roar Guru

      December 12th 2017 @ 9:22am
      Nat said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:22am | ! Report

      Good list Mark. Subjective of course. I was lucky enough to see Lewis play but too young to fully appreciate his absolute control. When Bennett used to seek coaching tips from EPL and NFL coaches, those who knew nothing of the game identified Wally as the leader. Locky many, many times times and to watch him and JT control the Origin games, talking and pointing setting up plays so far in advance was special. For mine, they would be the halves pairing with Johns off the bench. Maybe Eric Grothe Snr in place of Falou too.

      • December 13th 2017 @ 5:45pm
        Larry1950 said | December 13th 2017 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

        TB, no way wished to denigrate Terry Lamb or Grothe, just reckon they can’t make the number one spot in their positions on this criteria. Longevity has to count & Grothe doesn’t really qualify on that count, I also marvelled at Rowdy Shearer’s ability but he fell just short although I’m unconvinced on Folau. Always thought O’Connor was susceptible in defence. Wingers are hard to judge because they rely so much on the quality playmakers inside them so that’s very subjective, as an example not many wingers have as good an international record as Darius Boyd but he doesn’t make the cut.
        Petro didn’t make my top two props but he played top class footy for what seemed like 20 years. Never thought I’d see a more complete hooker (in the uncontested striking era) than Steve Walters and suddenly along comes Cam Smith.

        The beauty of these articles is we get to reminisce about great footy we’ve seen over the years, I saw Gasnier once as a young guy but you can’t judge on one game. Reckon a lot of people omitting Lewis never saw him much and based their opinions on media reports & rubbish like Ray Price used to spout. As a young guy, he dominated the whole BRL competition & was nearing the end of his career when the Broncos arrived.

        • Roar Guru

          December 14th 2017 @ 5:10am
          The Barry said | December 14th 2017 @ 5:10am | ! Report

          All fair points mate.

          I’d be interested to see what your final team is.

          I reckon O’Connor was one of those players who because he was so good in attack had his defence under rated a bit as a result. He was a good front on defender and certainly not afraid to put his body in the way of big men.

          I was a young bloke when Lewis was doing his thing. I didn’t get to see him week to week but there was this sort of mystical quality to him that he’d come out of ‘nowhere’ for rep footy season. Great for the Kangaroos, not so much for the Blues!

          I’m not sure there’s been a better all round footballer. He controlled games with his passing and kicking games like no one else I’ve seen, could hit like a forward and even when he’d been relatively quiet could deliver a match winning moment like no one else I’ve seen. He dominated the top level of footy for a decade.

          • December 14th 2017 @ 10:02am
            Mushi said | December 14th 2017 @ 10:02am | ! Report

            Lewis was al

            • December 14th 2017 @ 11:33am
              Mushi said | December 14th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

              Hmm a bit cut off there!

              Lewis was also lightning quick off the mark, which was deceptive given he looked like a middle aged man at a BBQ.

              Even at rep level you see footage of him hitting a gap the defence didn’t know existed.

              It’s what made him a horrible coach though, he assumed every one had his skill set.

              • Roar Guru

                December 14th 2017 @ 4:34pm
                The Barry said | December 14th 2017 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

                Yeah good point…his famous match winner in 89(?) was basically due to his speed off the mark.

                There was not much doing and he blitzed the defence with pace…and that was late on his career.

    • December 12th 2017 @ 9:40am
      paul said | December 12th 2017 @ 9:40am | ! Report

      Can’t fault your personal choice and glad to see you included Clyde. His work rate was exceptional.

      Wally was a very good player in teams of very good players. JT is an exceptional player who has helped good players get very much better. Obviously the game has changed, but JT stamina and skill set is a wee bit better than Wally’s. He’s the first guy I’d pick in my best 17 for sure

      • December 14th 2017 @ 5:15pm
        Rod said | December 14th 2017 @ 5:15pm | ! Report

        I’d argue that Lewis had a broader skill set than JT

        1) I think he had better vision overall

        2) he was a force of nature on the field

        3) he was a dominant defender

        4) great kicker

        5) superior passing game, basically introduced the bullet pass to then game( probably something he picked up from union)

        6) he played against better NSW sides than JT did consistently throughout his career.

        The thing with JT and I believe he is truely is a great player. It’s not his individual attributes which I believe number of players hqve a better skill set ,that makes him so great. He just never gives in
        He just keep coming until he wins the battle on the field.

        • December 20th 2017 @ 2:31pm
          Brainstrust said | December 20th 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

          Wally the Great when he had to be in the defensive line got destroyed by reserve grader Olsen Filliapaina and lost the match single handed against New Zealand.
          Rather have Thurston any day.

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