Origin Greats: Who are the best fullbacks?

RUGBY league greats Wally Lewis and Benny Elias have agreed to renew their rivalry - by selecting their greatest State of Origin sides.

But there's a catch: they'll name teams from opposing states, with Lewis naming his best NSW Origin side and Elias selecting his all-time best Queensland team.

The Origin Greats countdown will start today.

Each day (except Sundays) leading up to Origin One on May 27, we'll focus on one position, list the selection options and spark debate on who Lewis and Elias might pick.

You are able vote on your favourite option on our website each day for each position.

The public poll results and the picks of Lewis and Elias will run in print and online on game day, May 27.

Slater or Inglis? O'Connor or Grothe Snr? Who will the legends pick?

It's being done as a tribute to the greatest sporting institution in this country.

Let's look at out two selectors.

WALLY LEWIS

Wally Lewis
Wally Lewis NRL

He ran out in the very first game alongside Arthur Beetson, the man most credited for the birth of the sporting phenomenon know as State of Origin, the country's highest rating sporting event.

Lewis, who also wore the tag, The Emperor of Lang Park, played 31 Origins.

He was captain in 30 of them and being named man-of-the-match eight times.

A player who was always a step ahead of his rivals, Lewis possessed a wonderful spiral pass and could land the ball on a any chosen blade of grass at Lang Park.

One of eight immortals, Lewis was hated by Cockroach fans who even took their dislike of his brilliance into the Test arena.

BENNY ELIAS

Benny Elias
Benny Elias QRL

His battle with Queensland No.9 Steve Walters remains one of the great State of Origin rivalries.

Like Lewis, fans north of the border gave it to Elias, but like Lewis it just spurred him on.

Elias is one of the few multiple man-of-the-match winners (1990, 1992 and again in 1994 in his final Origin).

Who could ever forget the image of his mother Barbara wiping blood from her son's face, his head swathed in bandages in the middle of the field as he was doing an interview in 1992?

Elias was a member of the first New South Wales team to win a series against Queensland in1997 and as Lewis can attest, he was a fierce rival.

WAYNE 'TICKER' HEMING

APN senior sports reporter Wayne 'Ticker' Heming
APN senior sports reporter Wayne 'Ticker' Heming David Stuart

Rugby league greats Wally Lewis and Benny Elias have donned their selectors' hats to name their best State of Origin sides, Lewis choosing his all-time best NSW side and Elias his top Queensland line-up.

Can you pick their respective sides?

It's a decent challenge because they may have not necessarily picked the best player in each position, but made their selections based on their own Origin criteria of character, toughness, what they brought to the team and what they believe is required to play in which is generally regarded as the toughest game of all.

I have covered over 90 State of Origin matches since game one at Lang Park in 1980 and will give my two cents worth on each position, but my thoughts an opinions may differ from those of our esteemed judges Lewis and Elias.

So check out the nominations for positions in both their teams as they are released each day and have a crack and see how you go.

After all, how many times do you get a chance to be an Origin  "selector".

Good luck!

Fullbacks

Today we kick off the series by voting on the fullbacks.

NEW SOUTH WALES FULLBACK

Wally certainly has a tough job choosing between these very classy five fullbacks. 

Having seen them all play, I rate Jarryd Hayne amongst the most athletically gifted and fastest footballers to pull on a boot.

It's like he has jet engines and can leave players grasping at thin air.

Before heading off on his assault on the NFL this year Hayne showed everyone what a dominant player he could be with an outstanding season for his club Parramatta while also helping NSW break its State of Origin drought.

As a result he scooped the major player awards being named Dally M fullback of the year, player of the year and representative player of the year.

Brett Mullins was a brilliant attacking player with blinding speed and amazing footwork but he didn't play nearly as many Origin games as Balmain's dashing Tim Brasher (21).

"The Count", Anthony Minichiello never let the Blues down scoring six tries in eight Origin games but for mine, the lanky blond-haired Tiger Garry Jack gets the nod narrowly.

Jack was the all-round player, tall and strong under the bomb with safe hands, flashy in attack and a surprisingly strong defender who guarded his try line like he did the first dollar he ever earned.

Vote: Who did Wally pick as the best Blues fullback? Click on the poll to consider all options.

QUEENSLAND FULLBACK

This is Benny's first dilemma although his conundrum in some way solves itself given that Maroon great Darren Lockyer, the most capped Queenslander of them all, probably has to be in the side.

Normally you'd pick Lockyer at five-eighth. But we all know who is going to wear the No.6, don't we?

That means you have to pick between having Lockyer in your side at No.1 or Billy Slater who many may feel has filled the position so well for such a long period that he's earned the spot.

Either player would be an outstanding choice. Colin Scott was Queensland's first fullback in 1980 and he set an exceptionally high standard.

Gary Belcher, exciting with the ball in hand and one who could attack from any part of the field, was a wonderful custodian who would certainly not look out of place in any side for mine.

This is a very interesting call for you as Maroon selectors to make.

Slater has been such a magnificent servant at fullback but the big question is: can you leave Lockyer out?  

Vote: Who did Benny pick as the best Maroons fullback? Click on the poll to consider all options.

Origin Greats: Who were the best wingers?

Did we leave out any star fullbacks? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


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