Origin Greats: Who are the best halfbacks?

THERE'S another star-studded line-up of talent on the field today as we consider the great halfbacks of Origin.

How does one pick between Johnathan Thurston and Allan Langer or Andrew Johns and Ricky Stuart?

It's part of our Origin Greats series, where two league legends, King Wally Lewis and Benny Elias, have picked their best ever teams, and you have the chance to test yourself against them.

But there's a catch: they'll name teams from opposing states, with Lewis naming his best NSW Origin side and Elias selecting his all-time best Queensland team.

The public poll results and the picks of Lewis and Elias will run in print and online on game day, May 27.

So far we've looked at the fullbacks, wingers, centres and five-eighths. Today we'll examine the halfbacks.

 

NEW SOUTH WALES HALFBACK

Like Queensland, the Blues have two wonderful players who wore the No.7 with distinction that will generate enormous public debate.

As the game's newest immortal former Newcastle legend Andrew "Joey" Johns is probably the punter's favourite.

But Parramatta great Peter Sterling would have an army of fans who still remember his amazing performances for club, state and country.

How do you split them?

They were the best of their era, winning premierships, Origins and Tests.

Johns became the game's eighth immortal recently but many believe Sterling should have been added years ago.

NSW have always been strong in this position given the other nominations are Tommy Raudonikis, Steve Mortimer and Ricky Stuart, all wonderful contributors to the Origin cause.

Raudonikis played just one Origin in 1980 but that's all it took for him to set a standard for the halfbacks who followed.

Mortimer injected the passion in the Blues for their first State of Origin win in 1985 his teammates chairing him from the field on their shoulders in emotional scenes.

Stuart, who played 14 Origins in the early 1990s, had a pass and kicking game that was equal to most and later coach NSW before his Raiders teammate Laurie Daley took over the reins 2013.

Vote: Who did Wally pick as the best Blues halfback? Click on the poll to consider all options.

QUEENSLAND HALFBACK

WOW, this is tough.

The Maroons have two-stand out nominations in Allan "Alfie" Langer and Johnathan Thurston.

Alfie, was labelled "too small" for Origin but played 30-odd games in the No.7 jumper.

JT launched his Origin career at halfback until moving into the No.6 jumper to replace champion Darren Lockyer in 2012.

Splitting these two superstars is like splitting Phar Lap and Tulloch or Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.

Both dominated in their own right but in far different styles and they have scrap books impossible to jump over.

Langer answered an SOS from Queensland coach Wayne Bennett in 2001 flying back from the UK to inspire the Maroons to victory over NSW in the series decider in Brisbane -- one of the great masterstrokes of Origin.

Close to the line Alfie, who could be mistaken for a ball boy he was so small in stature, mesmerised defences with his jinking runs, bamboozling then with a short kicking game where he seemed to have the ball on a string.

Thurston's competitiveness is his trademark and like Langer, when the game was on the line, he stepped up every time.

No player in the game matches his involvement for 80 minutes.

JT played in all 24 games during Queensland's record eight straight series' wins. His current record of 30 straight Origin games since 2005 may never be beaten.

Cooper Cronk has done extremely well since inheriting the No.7 jumper from JT while Mark "Muppet" Murray and Adrian Lam who led Queensland to the unwinnable 1995 series 3-0 whitewash of an "unbeatable" Blues side, make up our five nominations.

Vote: Who did Benny pick as the best Maroons halfback? Click on the poll to consider all options.

Click here to vote on the fullbacks

Click here to vote on the wingers

Click here to vote on the centres

Click here to vote on the five-eighths

Did we miss any other worthy five-eighths? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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