You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content

Fans around the world have an obsession with labelling the greatest players in their chosen sport.

It is equally the most interesting and most pointless of debates that sport fans busy themselves with the world over. 

From football's annual debate between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi (don't forget Pele), to basketball's debate about LeBron James and Michael Jordan (enter Stephen Curry), finding the 'GOAT' (greatest of all time) is one of our favourite pastimes. 

With the advent of social media and an always-connected sport community, it has become the all-absorbing, time consuming cyclic debate at pubs, clubs and family barbecues across the country.

MyTeam powered by Trade Tools: Select your QLD Maroons team

In cricket there is relatively no debate about the greatest of all time, disregarding India's passion for Sachin Tendulkar, in a heavily stat-based game, no one comes close to the Don. He's untouchable which ruins the fun.

That was simply unacceptable to cricket fans so they solved that problem with some clever syntax, another metric was needed: the "best since Bradman". 

Let the debate continue. 

And so we move to the topical debate of the current rugby league landscape – a question that seemingly demands answering today. Is Johnathan Thurston the greatest to ever lace the boot?

Better than Andrew Johns, Darren Lockyer, Wally Lewis, Clive Churchill, Reg Gasnier, Bob Fulton, Graham Langlands, Johnny Raper, Norm Provan, Dally Messenger, Arthur Beetson, Ken Irvine, Bradley Clyde et al.?

The crowd is clamouring to rank 'JT' against the best since 1908 and they want instant gratification.

Each game that passes the conversation grows. Every time Thurston shows us something, the chatter builds. It started with hushed tones and whispers, but it has exploded into mainstream in the last few seasons.

How do you quantify it, where do you even start in a team sport played by many different shapes and sizes with completely different roles?

Provan won 10 Premierships in a row, he even captain-coached and was immortalised as one half of the NRL trophy renamed in his honour. There is no more famous image in rugby league. 

Irvine scored 212 tries and no one has come remotely close since. 

Churchill – heck 'The Little Master' has the grand final's best player award named after him! 

Messenger – four of the awards hanging around Thurston's neck are named after him (Dally M medal). Tells you about the kind of player he was. 

Lewis, he was simply dubbed 'The King'.

Johns, named halfback of the century, apparently a decent player to boot. 

Thurston? Four Dally M medals, three Golden Boot awards, two Premierships, a Clive Churchill medal, a World Cup in 2013 including man-of-the-match awards in all four games he played and a seemingly endless number of State of Origin series wins for Queensland for good measure.

The most important thing? He's still going, still adding to his legend every time he takes the field. 

Who is the greatest? 

It only matters in our minds, but as sport fans, we love the argument. 

Let's go through that list again.

*Originally appeared as "Monday Morning Halfback: Who's the greatest?"

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Platinum Partners