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The best rugby league rookies of the 2000s

The best rugby league rookies of the 2000s

Selecting a squad of the best players to make their NRL debut in the first decade of the new millennium, the temptation is simply to steal the team sheet from Mal Meninga’s home state and name 17 Queenslanders. who then set foot on New South Wales.

But during the wash, I was surprised that the majority of the picks had never folded a banana in their life.

Although seven of the first nine names – and eight in total – were staples of the Big Mal dynasty, I managed to find a place for seven New South Welsh and two New Zealanders.

Brent Tate, Justin Hodges and Corey Parker are some of the most unlucky Maroons to miss, but I’m sure they’ll sleep just fine on a feather bed with triumphant Queensland sweaters.

Let’s start with one of their former teammates, a simple selection at the back.

Back: Billy Slater
A generation of outstanding full-backs reshaped the way the rugby league was played in the first decade of the new millennium. This selection is easy as Billy Slater is clearly a standout, but Greg Inglis, Matt Bowen, Anthony Minichiello, Brett Stewart and Karmichael Hunt are some of the brightest stars of this era.

The best rugby league rookies

Billy Slater. (Photo by Mark Kolbe / Getty Images)

Wingers: Darius Boyd and Anthony Minichiello
I didn’t want to send specialist wing backs to recognize the depth of this position, but these two guys made some real contributions down the flanks.

Anthony Minichiello played his first three seasons away as future referee Luke Phillips wore the Roosters’ No.1, lining up in two big finals there.

Darius Boyd also won a decider in that position, but he kept his best wing job for Origin, forming a deadly combination on the left edge with a man he also accompanies on this team.

Centers: Greg Inglis and Jamie Lyon
Few images sum up Origin’s dominance of Queensland, like Greg Inglis sucking off a poor Blues defender and then giving Darius Boyd a ball to score intact – aside from maybe Greg Inglis rolling a poor one. defender of the Blues to mark himself.

Inglis Origin’s 18 tries and Boyd’s 17 are above the closest chasers – Billy Slater and Dale Shearer out of 12 – and the combination here too is an easy pick.

Maroons teammates Brent Tate and Justin Hodges or Saints mainstays Mark Gasnier and Matt Cooper had decent claims to join Inglis in crosses, but I can’t get past Jamie Lyon, a personal favorite for his old school attitude ( and his physique). He was one of the last real footballers in a game that turned to athletes.

Halves: Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk
Johnathan Thurston is obvious, so the only question is who joins him.

If you select Thurston in his favorite No.7, then the ageless and always entertaining Benji Marshall, eternal winner James Maloney and Kieran Foran of the 2011-13 era are the main No.6 specialists who could join him.

But I rank Cooper Cronk – the other outstanding half-back of this generation – above those three players, so Thurston can wear the No.6 jersey to accommodate him, as he has so often done at the reps after Darren Lockyer.

This arrangement has worked pretty well for the Cane Toads and Kangaroos, so hopefully he will be successful with this imaginary team as well.

Johnathan thurston

Johnathan Thurston (Bradley Kanaris / Getty Images)


Johnathan Thurston of the Maroons hits a goal

Johnathan Thurston. (Photo by Cameron Spencer / Getty Images)

Props: Matt Scott and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Another cowboy, Matt Scott, is the first accessory chosen. But there is no clear partner like Shane Webcke and Petero Civoniceva for the 1990s team.

Not that there aren’t some great rowers to choose from: Brent Kite, James Tamou, Ben Matulino, Roy Asotasi, David Shillington and Jason Ryles are just a handful of elite henchmen in the world. ‘era.

However, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves’ first three positions – and impressive longevity for a top rower who sails so close to the wind – earn him the contract.

Hooker: Cameron Smith (captain)
No explanation needed. Next.

Cameron Smith Dally M Medal 2017

Cameron Smith, the goat (Matt King / Getty Images)

Second rowers: Sonny Bill Williams and Willie Mason
Queensland mainstays Corey Parker, Josh McGuire and Sam Thaiday can point to their rep resumes, NSW rivals Anthony Watmough, Greg Bird and Glenn Stewart could inject a lot of bastard, and Andrew Ryan and Ryan Hoffman wouldn’t let you down.

But it’s hard to look past these two Canterbury teammates for impact.

Other rowers might have more deserving resumes or longer achievement lists, but if you were to ask opponents who they’d least like to face, I’d bet those two names would be their honest answer.

Lock: Paul Gallen
Paul Gallen is emblematic of the transformation of the # 13 jersey throughout this era. At the start of the decade, your lock was typically a bulky playmaker – think Jason Smith or Jimmy Dymock, or Brad Fittler on a rep team – or a slightly undersized workhorse like Tawera Nikau or Kevin Campion.

By the late 2000s, however, locks had become a third prop, mutating the game’s vernacular. In an age when front rowers rarely line up in a scrum and locks rarely lock them, this nomenclature has been replaced by “middle”.

And no milieu was more milieu than Gallen.

Bench: Wade Graham, Brent Kite, Andrew Ryan and Sam Thaiday
I wouldn’t put Graham in front of the other back rowers who have played more football, but selecting this team as if they were a real team playing a real game, his ability to cover halves as well as pumping minutes in forwards makes him a perfect bench option.

Plus, he gets big bonus points for being a personal favorite – another old school footballer rather than a modern day athlete, and the kind of personality you want to populate a locker room.

Kite is the next best specialist rower before (shading Asotasi), Ryan is the next best second rower specialist (shading Parker) and Thaiday covers both the first and the last row, and after Scott he was the outstanding striker among Queensland Dynasty builders eligible for this team.

Coach: Craig Bellamy
Craig Bellamy and Des Hasler are the only two super coaches who first recovered a clipboard in the 2000s.

Although Hasler has a record of victories over Bellamy (17-15) – the only current NRL coach who can boast about it – the Melbourne maestro wins the post.

Des can join him in the coaches’ lodge if he’s happy to be number 2, which shouldn’t be a problem for such a shrunken violet.




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