BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 16: Cameron Smith and Billy Slater run during a Queensland Maroons State of Origin training session at Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove Resort on June 16, 2017 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Former Rugby League great Cameron Smith has named what he believes are the three greatest fullbacks in the modern era.

Smith opened up the batting with Billy Slater, a player he had played alongside at club level, Origin and also on the international stage.

“Easy one, I’m going to start with Billy Slater. The way he played the game, it really changed the way that fullbacks play the game and the way they look at the game now,” Smith said on SEN 1170 Breakfast.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 21: Billy Slater of the Storm scores a try in the second half during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the Manly Sea Eagles at AAMI Park on September 21, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

“The influence that they (fullbacks) have particularly on the attack and how much ball they actually touch throughout a match.

“It’s not just about the kick returns, so I think Slater is most definitely the number one.”

On top of this Slater also carries an array of awards that he picked up over the duration of his career which include.

  • Peter Frilingos Memorial Award 2004
  • Dally M Fullback Of The Year 2008, 2011, 2017
  • Golden Boot Award 2008
  • RLIF Fullback Of The Year 2008, 2011
  • RLIF Player Of The Year 2008, 2011
  • RLW Player Of The Year 2008
  • Clive Churchill Medal 2009, 2017
  • Dally M Representative Player Of The Year 2010
  • Wally Lewis Medal 2010, 2018
  • Dally M Player Of The Year 2011
  • Ron McAuliffe Medal 2018

Alongside his individual accolades are multiple Rugby League World Cup titles, State of Origin titles and NRL Premierships.

As his second choice Smith went with current NRL players, Roosters' captain and dual international James Tedesco.

“I’m going to say (James) Tedesco just because of the form that he’s at over the last three or four years and the ability to keep that high level over that period of time,” Smith added.

“He’s won premierships, won State of Origin series and some big Test matches as well with the Kangaroos.”

As Smith alluded to Tedesco's consistency has been extremely prevalent over the past few seasons. More specifically in 2019 where the Italian Stallion received the Dally M Medal and Wally Lewis Medal in a year where he scored one of the most important tries in his career against the Maroons in game 3 to seal the Blues' Origin fate.

NRL Rd 9 - Cowboys v Roosters
TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 09: James Tedesco of the Roosters runs the ball during the round nine NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Sydney Roosters at QCB Stadium on July 09, 2020 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

For his last pick the former Storm captain picked another dual international and Sydney Roosters product Anthony Minichiello.

“I guess the third spot for me is the more difficult one,” Smith said.

“There’s a few guys who you named there like Garry Jack and Badge (Gary Belcher), I watched those guys, but I didn’t get the opportunity to play with them.

“Certainly great players, Brett Mullins as well, he was fanstastic, but all of those guys played when I was a little fella.

“Roger (Tuivasa-Sheck) was at a very high standard, but I’m going to say it’s a split decision between (Darren) Lockyer – he was a fullback to start before ending as a five-eighth and was regarded as the best in the world in the number one jersey – but I’m going to put in Anthony Minichiello.

“When Billy (Slater) came into first-grade as well, he’d do a lot of homework and vision on Minichiello, because he was the best fullback in the world.

“He won the golden boot, so I’m throwing ‘Mini’ in there as number three.”

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