Andrew Johns’ top five Englishmen to play in NRL

Drew Darbyshire

Immortal Andrew Johns has selected his top five Englishmen who have played in the NRL era.

The 45-year-old is regarded as one of the best players in the history of the game, having scored 81 tries and kicked 929 goals in 251 games for Newcastle Knights and Warrington.

Johns made 23 appearances for New South Wales at Origin level and earned 26 caps for Australia.

Appearing as a pundit on Nine, Johns revealed his top five English players to have played in the NRL.

5: James Graham

Johns said: “He came over here and his ball playing ability is like a throwback to the English players of the 1970s. He passes before the line and in the line, he’s as tough as they come and everyone knows he’s just an absolute lunatic. He’s old school and players love playing with him.”

4: Gareth Ellis

Johns said: “This guy was sensational when he came over. He was a real professional and I can’t remember him missing a tackle. He was a great defender and had a great combination with Benji Marshall. I can imagine it would’ve been hard for him to fit into their structure at the Tigers but this bloke took it to another level.”

3: Josh Hodgson

Johns said: “When he signed for Canberra I actually didn’t know much about him but I was blown away by his performances. He is a half-back who plays in dummy half and his form has been right up there with Cameron Smith – if not maybe better on occasions. They’ve a real chance of winning the competition this year on the back of him.”

2: Adrian Morley

Brad Fittler said: “He was just the best. He was a 1,000 miles an hour. If he hit someone good, what he would do is just say ‘I’ll give you a chance to get me back’ and he’d just get the ball and run straight at them. It was like a real throwback to Origin in the 1960s or 1970s.”

1: Sam Burgess

Johns said: “What a player. He’s probably the best Englishman to ever come out here along with Malcom Reilly. He played in the NRL Grand Final with a busted cheekbone and is an absolute warrior. He’s as tough as they come and he took Souths to another level when he came out here. We had all heard about Sam Burgess in the UK but he just exploded when he came out here.”

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