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Thurston voted rugby league's greatest Indigenous player

The jaw-dropping feats of Indigenous athletes are woven into the fabric of rugby league.

During the history of the game, there have been countless Indigenous players who have left an indelible mark on the code. chose 10 of the greatest and asked fans to vote on who they think is the best.

The poll has been closed and after more than 6000 votes, Cowboys legend Johnathan Thurston was crowned the greatest Indigenous player of all time ahead of Maroons icon Arthur Beetson and another former Kangaroos star, Greg Inglis.

Such was the talent on offer, modern and emerging legends missed the initial list of 10, such as David Peachey, Wendell Sailor, Anthony Mundine, Matt Bowen, Scott Prince, Nathan Blacklock, Latrell Mitchell or Preston Campbell. Nor legends such as Dale Shearer, Ricky Walford, Frank Fisher, Larry Corowa, John Ferguson or Ken Nagas.

Arthur Beetson in action for Australia.
Arthur Beetson in action for Australia. ©Rugby League Week

The top 10 (in alphabetical order)

Arthur Beetson

One of the all-time great props, the godfather of State of Origin and the first Indigenous Australian to captain the nation in any sport, Beetson's legacy looms large over the game. A brilliant, mobile prop able to offload from anywhere, Beetson captained Eastern Suburbs to their 1974 and 1975 grand final wins.

Laurie Daley

A key member of the dominant Raiders sides of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Daley is also one of the best players in NSW Origin history. Skilful enough to represent Australia at five-eighth, mobile enough to be a brilliant centre and physical enough to dominate in the back row, Daley was the full package and earned Dally M player of the year honours in 1995.

Indigenous All Stars v World All Stars, 2010

Justin Hodges

One of the best centres of the NRL era, Hodges was an automatic selection for Queensland through the most dominant era in Origin history and earned 13 caps for Australia. Hodges played fullback through Brisbane's most recent premiership in 2006 but will be best remembered as a centre who turned dummy-half running into an art form.

Greg Inglis

Able to make the almost impossible seem effortless, Inglis's ability to rise to any occasion was reflected in the fact he played a different position in his three grand final wins - five-eighth (2007) and centre (2009) for Melbourne and fullback (2014) for South Sydney. The Clive Churchill medallist finished his career as Queensland's top try-scorer with 18 four-pointers in 32 matches. He also sits third on the Australian list with 31 tries in 39 Tests.

Cliff Lyons

A Hall of Fame five-eighth who could create something out of thin air, Manly legend Lyons won two premierships, two Dally M Medals and the Clive Churchill Medal and represented NSW and Australia. Lyons's scheming runs to create space for others or himself are the stuff of folklore, with his famous try in the second Ashes Test of 1990 being a prime example.

The Indigenous All Stars Team of the Decade

Steve Renouf

Regarded among the game's finest centres, Renouf was blessed with speed, elusiveness and an incredible knack for finding the line, scoring a record 142 tries in 183 games for the Broncos. "The Pearl" was an integral cog in Brisbane's first four premierships and represented Queensland and Australia.

Eric Simms

Simms literally changed the game - field goals were reduced from three points to one in 1971 because the Rabbitohs fullback was utterly dominating the competition with his golden boot. The four-time premiership winner still holds several South Sydney records including most points in a first-grade career, most points in a season and most first-grade goals in a career, season and match.

All Stars: Where it all began

Gorden Tallis

Fearsome and fearless, Gorden Tallis only knew one way to play: as hard as possible. Starting his career with St George, the second-row enforcer joined the Broncos in 1997 and became a club legend, winning three titles. The proud Queenslander captained his state and country and was selected in the Indigenous Team of the Century in 2008.

Sam Thaiday

A one-club champion, Thaiday played 304 games for Brisbane and featured in their 2006 premiership and 2015 grand final loss. The always-dependable second-rower or prop was a mainstay at Origin and Test level for more than a decade, contributing heavily to many successes. He was only six seasons into his NRL career when he was included in the 2008 Indigenous Team of the Century.

Johnathan Thurston

Huge in heart, Thurston's skill, composure, toughness and relentless competitiveness elevated him into rare air. The clutch playmaker was a central pillar in Queensland's unprecedented eight-year Origin dynasty from 2006-13 and shone on the international stage. Arguably the greatest Cowboys player ever, his feats in bringing the club a maiden premiership in 2015 will never be forgotten.

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.

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