Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

The King or JT? Who Is the Best?

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

The King or JT? Who Is the Best?

Article excerpt

Keeping up the Pace

with

Paul

Hoffmann

JOHNATHAN Thurston or Wally Lewis?

Just who is the greatest rugby league player of all time?

After Thurston's performance in the dramatic 2015 NRL Grand Final, the opinion of many pundits is clear.

The Cowboys playmaker is indeed the best rugby league player of all time.

That's a big call.

After all, he's not yet been given immortal status, but that will surely come.

Fans from different eras tend to have different viewpoints.

My dad, for example, lists Johnny Raper as the greatest player.

Diehard one-eyed Blues supporters will suggest that Andrew Johns is the greatest.

What about Darren Lockyer, Peter Sterling or Bob Fulton?

I believe, though, that it comes down to Lewis and Thurston.

It's always difficult to compare players of different eras.

The game is faster now.

The players are well-drilled professional athletes.

It's a bit like trying to compare Wladimir Klitschko with Muhammad Ali.

Ali was a 210-pound boxer; Klitschko is a 250-pound mountain.

The sport has evolved.

I have no doubt that Wally Lewis would have been a champion player in this era of super athletes.

I still remember watching the King play a game at Browne Park in the mid-80s for Wynnum Manly.

He barely raised a sweat.

He dictated play from five-eighth, barking orders and organising his players.

He was one step ahead of everyone else, as is Thurston.

Wally was also strong in defence.

Who remembers Lewis' hit on Kiwi prop Darrell Williams in 1989?

That was an absolute bell ringer that David "Cement" Gillespie would have been proud of.

What about his tackle on Michael O'Connor in an 80s State of Origin game at Lang Park?

The King definitely holds an edge over Thurston in that department, although the physical size of Lewis allowed him to bring down larger players. …

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