When Queensland Maroons lock Pat Carrigan thinks about everyone who has donned a Maroons jersey, he is inspired.
So much so, there was no way he could pick a favourite five or 10 players. Instead, Carrigan developed a ‘greatest of all time’ pyramid. A GOAT pyramid, if you will.
Carrigan said every one of the 230 players who had worn the jersey had earned their position, and because he had not seen all of them play, he wanted to create GOAT pyramid instead of picking his favourites.
Noting Wally Lewis is The King, Carrigan - who is in camp with the Australian Kangaroos for the Pacific Championships - said he sat outside of the GOAT pyramid and was the keeper of it.
“The King sits outside of the pyramid, he holds the GOATs... Wally is the chair of the pyramid, as King,” Carrigan said.
Carrigan said current Maroons assistant coach Cameron Smith topped his GOAT pyramid.
The Brisbane Broncos star said aside from all of the awards and accolades Smith received during his career, he could not look past Smith’s 42 games for Queensland - 21 as captain, plus his record 430 NRL games and 56 Tests for Australia.
“Number one is Smithy… Smithy is at the top of the GOAT pyramid... Smithy on top but Wally is God," Carrigan said.
“Smithy has his own medal named after him and was pretty successful… I think he’s definitely in the conversation for the greatest rugby league player ever.”
The award Carrigan is referring to is the FOGS Cameron Smith Award, for playing 40 Origin games, and it has only been awarded to Smith.
“He was just so calm and so good,” Carrigan said, adding he didn’t think he’d ever seen Smith play a bad game.
“He never really cared about the big flashy moments… you know he was doing every little thing perfectly well and then that would contribute to a big play…. I reckon that is pretty impressive.
“I feel like every time he put on the jersey, he was the best version of himself.”
The next tier of Carrigan’s GOAT pyramid has three players: Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis and Allan Langer.
“JT on the second tier, GI and Alf,” Carrigan said.
“I feel like JT had some massive moments in a Queensland jersey… he played 37 games, his win rate was crazy and he clutched a few times. I remember he played the game when his shoulder was hanging off and he kicked the goal from the sideline. JT is JT.
“GI is the same. Some of the Origin highlights, and having played in that arena, to think how he could’ve produced some of those moments, is just crazy… on both sides of the ball.
“And then little Alfie, not only because of his roles in all of the teams post-footy, but because of moments like when they called him back from England, the Super League… Wayne brought him back and they won that series. When you stand next to him, he’s a little man, but when you look at old school footy, where it was pretty much violence, for him to do what he did and be such a good player, have the success in Queensland, is gnarly.”
The third tier of Carrigan’s GOAT pyramid has five players: Mal Meninga, Billy Slater, Darren Lockyer, Gorden Tallis and Shane Webcke.
“On the third tier, I’m going to have Mal Meninga…. I never saw him play but I have heard all about how crazy and destructive he was and now he’s a coach, and with what he’s done there, he has to be there. I’m sure if I ever watched him play, he could easily be higher,” Carrigan said.
“Billy Slater. Bill’s a gun. Some of his highlights - wow.
“Locky. I watched a lot of Locky playing and being a Queensland captain for a long time when I was really young, he was the one leading them. His success speaks for itself.
“Then forwards Gordie and Shane Webcke. Shane Webcke brought the ferociousness so if you strapped up beside him, I reckon that would’ve been pretty cool.”
The fourth tier of Carrigan’s GOAT pyramid has seven players: Petero Civoniceva, Carl Webb, Daly Cherry-Evans, Josh Papalii, Sam Thaiday, Dane Gagai and Nate Myles.
“There’s so many I could pick,” Carrigan said.
“Petero was built like a brick and hard to hit and Carl Webb is there because I remember when he shaved a Q in the side of his head and he took everyone on.
“Chez because he’s the current skipper and it’s been awesome to play under Chez. His role, too, in and out of the dynasty team and persevering to still play 22 Origins.
“I’m going to go Big Papa because he was my favourite player growing up so to be able to debut last year with Pap... I reckon he could’ve still got a jersey this year. I probably wouldn’t have got a jersey if he played. He played 23 games too, could’ve easily got to 30.
“Sammy Thaiday. I just remember being a kid and loving watching him play.
“I’ll go Gags. Gags is a freak at any level, but Origin Gags was all about big plays. He was a weapon.
“And Nate. Big Nate. Just because he played 32 Origins in the middle. When you talk to all of the GOAT coaches, they say the first person they would pick is Nate, which says something about Nate.”
The bottom of Carrigan’s pyramid includes every player to have donned a Maroons jersey, with a few highlighted for good measure.
“People I’ve loved playing with like Lindsay Collins, Reuben Cotter, Cameron Munster… anyone I’ve played with in Origin,” Carrigan said.
“None of them have ever let anyone down. Lindsay Collins, every time he pulls on a Maroons jersey he’s a freak.
“And then older guys I used to watch like Karmichael Hunt when he was young and just carried the ball back with no fear… then Justin Hodges, Corey Parker, Matt Gillett… this could go on forever.
“I reckon I’ve left a few out. Early 90s teams. Don’t want to leave them out because they were gun.”