An NRL retiring team of the year
At the end of a massive season of NRL retirements, we’ve named a star-studded 17 of league greats who will hang up the boots after 2011.
Kangaroos, Queensland and Brisbane skipper and Immortal-to-be Darren Lockyer is the biggest name to depart the scene, but there are plenty of other stars who will follow suit.
So to pay tribute to the old boys of the NRL, we’ve picked a Dad’s Army team to take on all comers. While for many their best days are behind them, this squad is packed with premiership winners, former Origin stars, club heroes and a few colourful personalities.
BigPond Sport’s 2011 Retiring Team of the Year
1. Rhys Wesser (Panthers, Rabbitohs) – A brilliant, elusive ball-runner at his peak, Wesser won a premiership with Penrith in 2003 and broke the club’s season try-scoring record twice. Has scored more than 120 tries in his career.
2. Adam MacDougall (Roosters, Knights, Rabbitohs) – Incredibly hard to stop at his best, and a one-time rival at club and Origin level of Queensland great Wendell Sailor, the ‘Mad Dog’ will finish his career atop the Knights’ all-time try-scorers list.
3. Mark Gasnier (Dragons) – A superstar at NRL level with the Dragons and a long-time fixture for NSW Origin, Gasnier is the complete centre – winning a premiership in his first season back in league after a stint in French rugby.
4. Mat Rogers (Sharks, Titans) – A dual international who represented Australia in both league and rugby union. Was Australia’s top point-scorer in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup and, seven years later, was the Gold Coast Titans’ equal top try-scorer in his first year back in the NRL.
5. Chris Walker (Broncos, Rabbitohs, Roosters, Storm, Titans, Eels) – An NRL speedster with a bad boy reputation, Walker has played for six different clubs and scored plenty of tries along the way. Known more for his finishing than his defending, finding the tryline four times in six games for Queensland.
6. Darren Lockyer (Broncos) – He’s scored more tries for Australia and played more Origin matches than any other player, won multiple premierships with the Broncos and led Queensland to six straight Origin series wins. Also made a mid-career transition from being the world’s best fullback to become the world’s best five-eighth. In other words, a pretty handy player.
7. Preston Campbell (Chargers, Sharks, Panthers, Titans) – One of the game’s most popular players, Campbell is proof that little guys can still do it all in rugby league. Beat Andrew Johns to the Dally M Medal in 2001, won a premiership in his debut season with the Panthers in 2003, was first player signed by the Gold Coast Titans and was the driving force behind the conception of the annual NRL All Stars game.
8. Luke Stuart (Sharks, Rabbitohs) – A fan favourite at Souths and one of the club’s most consistent players, Stuart was finally rewarded at City-Country level in 2009 when he became the oldest NRL player to make his representative debut. Will hang up the boots after 14 years in the top grade.
9. Mark Riddell (Dragons, Eels, Warriors, Roosters) – One of the game’s biggest characters, Riddell may well be best remembered for arguably the greatest try celebration in rugby league history.
10. Todd Payten (Raiders, Roosters, Tigers) – A ball-playing prop with more than 250 games to his name, who grabbed a rare moment in the spotlight with a try in the final minute of the Tigers’ 2005 grand final win.
11. Carl Webb (Broncos, Cowboys, Eels) – A fearsome impact player with the Broncos and Cowboys, Webb played for Queensland a dozen times and lined up for Australia in the Centenary Test against New Zealand in 2008.
12. Andrew Ryan (Eels, Bulldogs) – ‘Bobcat’ Ryan has done it all in 11 seasons in rugby league, captaining the Bulldogs to a premiership in 2004 and being a regular fixture for NSW and Australia between 2004 and 2007.
13. Alan Tongue (Raiders) – A rare one-club player and one of Canberra’s favourite sons, Tongue has spent a decade as one of the game’s hardest workers and is a former Dally M captain and lock of the year.
Frank Puletua (Panthers, Rabbitohs)
Michael Hodgson (Eels, Raiders, Titans, Bulldogs)
Shane Tronc (Cowboys, Broncos)
Brad Meyers (Broncos, Titans)
Coach: John Lang (Sharks, Panthers, Rabbitohs)
Next week, we’ll go to the other end of the spectrum and name the best rookie 17 of the season.
Source: BigPond Sport