We could discuss the greatest players of all time for the rest of our lives. But everyone has their favourites. So just who are your favourite rugby league players of all time? I’ll post mine below.
1. Nathan Hindmarsh (Parramatta Eels)
The long haired second rower with the funny bum had a work ethic unmatched in the rugby league world.
A barnstorming second rower in his early days, Hindmarsh moved to the middle of the field later in his career and his defence became his greatest asset.
Many a time he was the last man chasing a runaway winger, forcing him to touch down out wide rather than under the posts.
His ability to pull off that try-saving tackle was unbelievable, often coming from nowhere to either drag his opposition down or hold him up.
The care free attitude of “Hindy” was also an endearing quality and his imitation of Jamie Soward in his farewell match was just icing on the cake.
2. Andrew Johns (Newcastle Knights)
Off-field dramas aside, “Joey” was a fantastic and exciting player to watch. His ability to control a match practically on his own is nearly unparalleled in the modern game.
It pains me to say this but his performance in the 2001 Grand Final was sublime. I’m a Parramatta fan but Johns tore my beloved Eels to shreds in the first 40 minutes.
Joey was also a symbol of greatness for all New South Welshmen. He dominated Queensland and by the end of his career was probably the most respected Blues man north of the border. Even if those cane toads don’t show it.
3. Darren Lockyer (Brisbane Broncos)
Where would Brisbane be without their future immortal? Lockyer drove not only Brisbane, but Queensland and Australia as well to long periods of dominance.
He proved he was the best in the world in two positions and was a true gentleman of the game.
I’ll never forget how he got Brisbane out of jail against the Eels in 2008. He wasn’t even supposed to play the game but his perfectly weighted kick on full time delivered the Broncos an unbelievable four point win.
He adapted and played to his strengths meaning he went out on top of his game. Once blessed with quick feet and the ability to glide across the field, age caught up with him.
But where his feet grew slow his mind grew fast. He developed one of the greatest kicking and passing games that rugby league will ever see. Effortless and pinpoint accurate.
4. Jason Smith (Canterbury, Parramatta, North Queensland, Canberra)
One of the toughest players in the modern era, he left his mark at each of his four Australian clubs. Blessed with some of the softest hands and an unbelievable timing that belied his oft. frequented position of lock, Smith was one player I really respected.
I remember some of his time at Parramatta and how he would command the ball, time and again putting his outside backs through the smallest of gaps.
His toughness allowed him to leave his passes until the final second, often seeing him pummelled by defenders but managing to put his man into space. A trait still not seen in most halves today.
He did all this on a diet of cigarettes, beer and meat pies. The last I heard of Jason was him playing Country rugby league. Setting up a few tries before being sent off after punching one of his opponents.
5. Luke Burt (Parramatta Eels)
The diminutive back is a legend out Parramatta way and one of the Eels’ most loyal servants. His career saw the end of the small outside backs and the rise of the freakish super athletes in the modern game.
Although he was small Burt had an amazing turn of speed which he carried throughout his career and what he lacked in size he made up for with his brain. In another life he would’ve been a perfect halfback. A position he played in once and the Eels won.
He had a near sixth sense of how to out-smart the opposition. I still remember when, on a last tackle against the Bulldogs, he spotted a set of tired markers and no fullback at home. He stabbed a grubber in behind the line and scored un-challenged.
At one point he made a habit of beating the first defender on almost every one of his kick returns during his peak.
A consistent goal kicker, Burt was underrated in that department, yet many a time he landed the pressure kick from the sideline. You can have your Yow-Yeh’s and Ferguson’s, I’ll take Burt any day.