CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - 1994: Mal Meninga of the Canberra Raiders in action during a ARL match held at Bruce Stadium 1994 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Getty Images)

For over a hundred years the great game of Rugby League has been played.
Over this time there have been very many players that have graced the playing fields from Leichhardt to Lidcombe from Brookvale to Brisbane anywhere, everywhere far and wide.

The NRL as known today started out as a Sydney Competition to evolving through to its current iteration. I have followed the game since the late 1970’s. In a time where coat hangers and punches were the norm.

Today’s game is a more family-friendly TV game. One constant throughout time is the skilled players and hard men who have risen above the rest. Some have been immortalised, some just fan favourites.

I’d like to know who is in your best team, 1 to 17.

Players that have thrilled you over the years. Players you think are the greatest of all time or just your favourites of all time. They might have been skilled or just a character of the game.

My Best 17 of All Time

1. Billy Slater
I have never seen a more complete package at fullback in my time.

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2. Eric Grothe Sr
The guru was such an awesome unstoppable beast in the early 80’s.

3. Mal Meninga
Such a big centre almost the prototype for the modern game.

4. Brad Fittler
Just a winner. Had the best sidestep. Did so much as a teenager, just brilliant to watch.

5. Semi Radradra
I hope Semi comes back! He was just so great to watch him steamroll his opposition.

6. Brett Kenny
Loved to watch Bert play. Just a natural.

7. Peter Sterling
The best on-field General I have seen play. Just such a high football IQ.

8. Glenn Lazarus
For a big man, he had an engine on him. Won so many Premierships. A winner!

9. Benny Elias
I loved to hate Benny but was the best hooker of his time.

10. Steve Roach
Blocker was a nut case but one hell of a player. Tough man.

11. Trevor Gillmeister
The axe was one of the best defensive players I have seen. A bit of a character in a time of characters.

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12. Mark Geyer
Another player you just never knew what you would get! Was a skilled hard man.

13. Brad Clyde
Non-stop worker. The best back rower of his generation.

14. Cliff Lyons
Another player I loved to hate but was such a genius ball player.

15. Wally Lewis
The King! Boo! What a player. Once he pulled on a QLD jersey was unstoppable.

16. Paul Sironen
Big Siro was a giant in the 90’s he would just be another forward in today’s game. Was a hard man to bring down in his day.

17. Sam Backo
OK, not really in the class of the players listed but was a colourful character! Interviews were interesting.

Special mention to Phil Blake, Greg Alexander, the late great Scott Gale, Benji Marshall, Rambo Ronnie Gibbs and Ian Schubert I just couldn’t fit you in!

So that’s mine! Tell me your best 17.

57 COMMENTS

  1. From players I have watched

    1. Billy Slater
    2. Nathan Merritt
    3. Greg Inglis
    4. Matt Cooper
    5. Brett Morris
    6. Darren Lockyer
    7. Andrew Johns
    8. Shane Webcke
    9. Cameron Smith
    10. Matt Scott
    11. Nathan Hindmarsh
    12. Sam Burgess
    13. Jason Taumalolo
    Bench
    14. Johnathan Thurston
    15. Corey Parker
    16. Steve Price
    17. Brad Fittler

  2. 1. Gerard Beale
    2. Steve Michaels
    3. Blake Ayshford
    4. Ben Pomeroy
    5. Jonothan Wright
    6. Ben Roberts
    7. Luke Kelly
    8. Luke Burgess
    9. Jeff Robson
    10. Tim Browne
    11. Kyle Lovett
    12. Tony Williams
    13. Nathan Smith
    14. Tim Moltzen
    15. Eddy Pettybourne
    16. Jarrad Kennedy
    17. Fetuli Talanoa

  3. 1 Slater (Langlands and Churchill were better though)
    2 Eric Grothe Sr
    3 Mal Meninga
    4 Steve Renouf (just in front of Gasnier and O’Connor)
    5 Wendell
    6 Wally
    7 Joey (GOAT)
    8 Webbke
    9 Smith (as much as I hate the bloke)
    10 The Chief (followed by Lazarus and Spud Carroll)
    11 Tallis (even though he was a dog)
    12 Ben Kennedy (followed by Menzies)
    13 Burgess (Clyde and Lindner next)

    14 Thurston
    15 Fitler
    16 Lazarus
    17 Carroll/Lindner/Clyde

  4. I’ve been watching since 1990 for context…
    1. Billy Slater
    2. Jason Robinson
    3. Greg Inglis
    4. Steve Renouf
    5. Wendell Sailor
    6. Johnathan Thurston
    7. Andrew Johns
    8. Shane Webcke
    9. Cameron Smith
    10. Glenn Lazarus
    11. Gorden Tallis
    12. Matt Gillett
    13. Brad Fittler
    14. Cliff Lyons
    15. Pedero Civoniceva
    16. Matt Scott
    17. Steven Menzies

    • Robinson a surprise there but I would go along with you. He was a great player. Another Brit I would have considered was Ellery Hanley and of course (as this is all time) W.Boston.

      • Yeah… Robinson was a great Union player too. I considered Mat Rogers also. Sam Burgess at his peak makes my team (ahead of Gillett), but his hands over the last 2 years have been appalling.

  5. Very hard to pick.Could pick 5 in any position and say why id pick them but take them out under different rules or with different players around them.As a Parra fan i loved Sterling an rate him one of the greatest halfs i have seen but he had a pretty good backline around him.Kenny,Cronin,Ella,Grothe and also had a little fullback in the name of Taylor who was quite happy to take the heat of in defence.Sterling often would drop back in defence and Taylor would come up or Sterling would drift out wide but in saying that it was under 5 meter rule and i wonder how well the modern half would cope using so much energy in defence without there attack being affected.

  6. Best 17 I have watched:

    1. Darryn Lockyer
    2. Semi Radradra
    3. Greg Inglis
    4. Israel Folau
    5. Billy Slater
    6. Jonathan Thurston
    7. Andrew Johns
    8. Shane Webcke
    9. Cameron Smith
    10. Petero Civoniceva
    11. Gordon Tallis
    12. Nathan Hindmarsh
    13. Jason Taumalolo

    14. Brad Fittler
    15. Jesse Bromwich
    16. Sam Burgess
    17. Sonny Bill-Williams

    • Sorry but Slater beats Locky hands down. As much as I appreciate what he achieved, he isn’t in the same class as a fullback.

  7. This is from who I’ve watched,
    1.Billy Slater
    2.Brett Morris
    3.Josh Morris
    4.Greg Inglis
    5.
    6.Johnathan Thurston
    7.Andrew Johns
    8.Petero Civoniceva
    9.Cameron Smith
    10.Matt Scott
    11.Nathan Hindmarsh
    12.Boyd Cordner
    13.Jason Taumalolo

    14.Danny Buderus
    15.Jesse Bromwich
    16.Sam Burgess
    17.Matt Gillett

  8. 1 billy slater
    2 Wendell sailor
    3 mal meninga
    4 Steve renouf
    5 Eric grothe Snr
    6 Brett Kenny
    7 Andrew johns
    8 glen Lazarus
    9 cam smith
    10 arthur beetson
    11 gordon tallis
    12 SBW
    13 ray price

    14 Thurston
    15 Jason taumalolo
    16 Shane webke
    17 Steve roach

    On another topic….. To this day I still can’t believe how Brett Kenny, during the 80’s was so dominant yet not once was he awarded with the daly m five eighth of the year. Terry lamb won it a few times and I doubt even the most one eyed dogs fan would say that Lamb dominated Kenny during the early 80’s. To this day Brett Kenny remains the most naturally gifted player I have ever seen. Surely, Sterling and Kenny will go down in history as 1 of the greatest halves combination of all time.

    • To add to this, after doing a little research Eric Grothe Snr also failed to be awarded with a winger of the year award. It’s got me thinking that the judges of these awards during the 80’s didn’t like Parramatta very much.

    • Sorry mate Kenny was a brilliant player but how can you go past Brad Fittler. He was an inspirational leader that captained the Roosters, NSW and Australia in 20 tests. He won numerous games with his X factor abilities either with his brilliant passing game or his legendary side step.

      • Best I have seen ( I think, very hard to remember all of them)

        Slater
        Grothe Snr
        Meninga
        Cronin
        O’Connor
        Lockyer
        Johns
        Webcke
        Smith
        Lazarus
        Tallis
        Menzies
        Price

        Fittler
        Taumalolo
        Harrigan
        Beetson

        My bench is soley based on what they offer the team and impact. For example, Thurston is a better player than Fittler I believe, but Fittler covers so many positions and would provide more bench impact. JT13 and Chief would come on just to terrorise tired defence and Beetsons skill set wold be great too. I would also have loved to have Clyde, but I rate Price higher, and can’t fit him on the bench for the above reasons.

      • Woodchook, you say Fittler won numerous games with his x factor. So did Kenny mate. Who cares that he didn’t captain his state and country. I rate Fittler very highly, but, as a five eighth, he still sits behind Lockyer, Lewis and Kenny as far as post 1980 players go in my opinion. Kenny is often the forgotten hero in the dominant Eels team of the early and mid 80’s.

  9. Best 17 I have watched (Remember I’m pretty young)

    1 B Stewart
    2 Radradra
    3 Lyon
    4 Inglis
    5 B Morris
    6 Marshall
    7 Thurston
    8 Scott
    9 Smith
    10 Graham
    11 Cooper
    12 S Burgess
    13 Taumalolo

    14 Cronk
    15 Parker
    16 Barba
    17 Hayne

    • Strong squad holmesy. Just too light on on the bench. Based on you age , maybe bring in SBW and a big prop. And surely you saw Lockyer play? Why not have him over Benji? That one puzzles me.

  10. Time to anger some dads

    1. Slater
    2. Radradra
    3. Inglis
    4. Hayne
    5. Folau
    6. Thurston
    7. Johns
    8. Pangai Jr.
    9. Smith
    10. Andrew Fifita
    11. Sam Burgess
    12. James Graham
    13. Taumalolo

    14. Shaun Johnson
    15. Civoniceva
    16. Webke
    17. Tuivasa-Sheck

  11. 1.Slater
    2.Grothe
    3.oconner
    4.s Rodgers
    5.ettinghausen
    6.daley
    7.johns
    8. Webke
    9.Smith
    10.roach
    11.sironen
    12.gav Miller
    13.lewis
    Res
    Clyde
    Tallis
    Lazarus
    Peachey

    • Hahahaha, spot the Cronulla bogan. Miller, peachey and the pretty boy who likes teammates wives – you must be on the cans at northies. Rodgers is hard to argue but I hope with Lewis you mean Wally and not Luke.

    • clyde is so underrated in the present day. that guy changed the way backrowers and locks played. one of greats but rarely mentioned.
      ill go

      1. Lockyer
      2. Radradra
      3. Meninga
      4. Fittler
      5. Renouf
      6. Lewis (c)
      7. A. Johns (gk)
      8. Lazarus
      9. C. Smith
      10. Beetson
      11. Sironen
      12. Tallis
      13. Clyde

      14. Webcke
      15. Taumalolo
      16. Geyer
      17. Kenny

  12. The best i’ve watched since about the 2000 mark.

    1. Slater (big fan of Minichiello.)
    2. Merritt
    3. Inglis
    4. Folau
    5. Sing
    6. Thurston
    7. Cronk
    8. Civoniceva
    9. Smith
    10. Gallen
    11. Tallis
    12. Burgess
    13. Taumalolo
    14. J. Graham
    15. SBW
    16. Webcke
    17. D. Johnson

  13. Roosters I was so close to putting Minnie in over slater if he had t of had that back injury he was never the same after

  14. 1. Slater
    2. Sailor
    3. Fittler
    4. Meninga
    5. Folau
    6. Lockyer
    7. Thurston
    8. Webcke
    9. Smith
    10. Civonaceva
    11. Menzies
    12. Tallis
    13. Clyde

    14. Gillespie
    15. Daley
    16. Langmack
    17.Lyon

  15. 1.hayne (at hes peak) 2.radradra 3.inglis 4.meninga 5.grother snr 6.thurston 7.johns 8.webcke 9.smith 10.the chief 11.hindmash 12.tallis 13.ray price 14.benji 15petero 16.jason taumalolo 17.s.burgess

  16. 1. Billy Slater
    2. Hazem El Masri
    3. Brad Fittler
    4. Mal Meninga
    5. Steve Renouf
    6. Wally Lewis
    7. Andrew Johns
    8. John Sattler
    9. Cam Smith
    10. Pedro Civoniceva
    11. Steve Menzies
    12. Gordon Tallis
    13. John Coote
    14. Sony Bill Williams
    15. Johnathan Thurston
    16. Sam Burgess
    17. Norm Provan
    RESERVES
    Peter Sterling, Grahame Langlands, Reg Gasnier, Terry Lamb, Greg Inglis and Ken Irvine

  17. 1 Churchill

    2 Meninga
    3 Gasnier
    4 Fulton
    5 Langlands

    6 Fittler
    7 Johns

    13 Lewis
    12 Rappper
    11 Provan
    10 Beetson (c)
    9 Smith
    8 Lazarus

    14 Thurston
    15 Tallis
    16 Webcke
    17 Taumalolo

  18. It may be age or maybe a little anti canberra but im suprised nobody mentioned Mullins or Stuart.Mullins was a total freak in his day and as hard as it is to say Stuart was a brilliant half

    • Mullins was still a freak in the 2002 grand final with the Roosters when they won the comp. He got a break palmed off a defender and slipped the ball to Hegarty who ran around and scored under the posts.

  19. Only going off my two eyes from when i can properly remember- from around 05/06
    1. Slater
    2. Semi
    3. Hodges
    4. GI
    5. JHayne
    6. JT
    7. Cronk
    8. JGraham
    9. Smith
    10. Petero
    11. SBW
    12. Sam Burgess
    13. Taumalolo
    14. Lockyer
    15. Luke Lewis
    16. Matt Scott
    17. Mannering

    SJohnson
    DBoyd
    Hindy
    SJohnson
    Gareth Ellis
    Benji
    CParker
    Manu Vatuvei
    MMorgan

  20. 1: Brett Stewart
    2: Akuila
    3:Jamie Lyon
    4:Greg English
    5: Darius Boyd
    6: JT
    7: joey
    8: Matt Scott
    9 cam smith
    10: Paul Gallen
    11: Matt gillet
    12: beaver Menzies
    13: Corey Parker

    14: Mitchell Pearce
    15: Jesse Bromwich
    16: Nate Myles
    17: Ryan Hoffman

  21. Best I can remember watching

    1 Slater
    2 Wishart
    3 Renouf
    4 M Gasnier
    5 Falou
    6 JT
    7 can’t Split Joey/Alfie
    8 Spud
    9 Smith
    10 Webke
    11 Axe
    12 Fitler
    13 Clyde

    Reserves
    Chief, Morley, SBW, Lazarus

  22. Way to hard for me to pick the best but here are my favorites.

    1. Slater
    2. Falou
    3. Renouf
    4. Miles
    5. Fergusen
    6. Lockyer
    7. Thurston
    8. Backo
    9. Smith
    10. Lazarus
    11. Geyer
    12. Sirro
    13. Lindner

    14. Fitler
    15. Webke
    16. Civonaceva
    17. Daley

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