Andrew Johns has named his greatest ever New South Wales State of Origin side as the competition embarks on its 40-year anniversary, per The Sydney Morning Herald.
Chanel Nine league experts will announce their NSW side prior to game two of the series, with the Maroons side set to be unveiled before Nine’s broadcast of the final game of the series on November 18.
Johns did not select himself and named Roosters fullback James Tedesco as the only current player to make his side.
Brad Fittler, Paul Gallen, Phil Gould, Peter Sterling, Darren Lockyer, Wally Lewis, Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston and Paul Vautin join Johns on the panel of selecting the greatest ever Origin sides.
Andrew Johns’ greatest ever NSW side:
James Tedesco: “Him and Anthony Minichiello were neck and neck. It was hard to split them. Tim Brasher was close too. But I went with Tedesco,” Johns said, per The Sydney Morning Herald.
Jarryd Hayne: “He played in an era when Queensland were so dominant, and he was still the best player on the field in both teams. Some of the things he did in those series was just unbelievable, and when they won the series it was on the back of him.”
Eric Grothe snr: “He was so damaging. In an era when they didn’t do much scientific weights, he would have been incredible.”
Brad Fittler: “I wanted to pick Freddy at five-eighth but I went with combinations with Ricky and Laurie. Freddy is the ultimate competitor. You could play him anywhere on the field and he was always one of the best players.”
Mark Gasnier: “He added the X-factor. He had the footwork and speed. He was so dangerous when he was on.”
Laurie Daley and Ricky Stuart: “Growing up, that was the era in the early 1990s when they won three in a row, and it was on the back of those two players. Just that combination, the long passing of Ricky and the running game of Laurie.”
Danny Buderus: “I was tossing up Benny [Elias] also, but I had to put my great mate Bedsy in there. I remember when we kicked off, might have been the first game at Suncorp, and the ball bounces. Shane Webcke gets it after it bounces and, as he looked up, Bedsy launches at him. It set the tone for the whole series. We won the series … it was all set up from the first play from Bedsy.”
Paul Harragon and Glenn Lazarus: “Chief [Harragon] picks himself because, at Origin level, he was just such an intimidator. Lazo is the best front-rower I’ve ever seen. Early on I played hooker in between those two and Lazo taught me a great deal about ruck defence. Not only was he a great player, but he was incredibly smart.”
Paul Sironen and Ben Kennedy: “Siro is one of NSW’s finest in the back row. He always aimed up. Ben Kennedy was my favourite player to play with. He was just so intimidating and everyone loved playing with him. A great player in any era.”
Bradley Clyde: “One of the greats.”
Paul Gallen: “I couldn’t put him in on the front row ahead of Chief and Lazo, but his leadership and the way he ripped into Queensland is what we’re all about here in NSW.”
Steve Roach: “No one hates Queensland more than Blocker. Growing up when it was catch and kill out there, Blocker was catching and killing.”
Steve Menzies: “Beaver is the perfect bench player because he can play any position other than front row.”
Craig Wing: “He’s probably the best jersey 14 player ever. No one talks about his toughness because he’s such a handsome devil, but he was so tough.”
Phil Gould: “Taught me so much about footy and big-match mentality. He was the perfect coach for that six-week period to get anyone in tune. He was a genius at it.”