Six of the best full-backs to grace the NRL

Zach Holland

We take a look at six of the best players to play in the full-back role since the inception of the NRL in 1998. 

Note: We’ve not included Darren Lockyer in this list because we’ve classed him as a half-back for our sections later in the ‘six tackles’ series.

Billy Slater

There is no doubt at all that this man’s name is near the top of the pile – if not right at the top – when discussing some of the best full-backs to play the game.

The Australian legend broke into the Melbourne first-grade side back in 2003 and from there established himself as one of the best players in the world in his position, winning several individual and team accolades along the way. By the end of his career in 2018, Slater finished second on the all-time Australian Rugby League try scoring charts with 190 to his name.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

As lethal as they come when running out from the back, Tuivasa-Sheck started life out at Sydney Roosters in 2012 before moving to the New Zealand Warriors in 2016.

Since then, he has become one of the most exciting players around with his dazzling runs and ability to wreak havoc against opposition defences. The 2018 Dally M Medal and 2019 Golden Boot winner now stands as one of the elite players in the world.

Anthony Minichiello

The 2005 Golden Boot winner was undoubtedly one of the best full-backs in the competition during the early 2000s as well an integral member of the Roosters side that won two NRL titles and reached six NRL Grand Finals.

In 2007, Minichiello was selected for Sydney’s Team of the Century and by his retirement in 2014, he had broke Luke Ricketson’s record for most first-grade matches as a member of the Roosters with 302.

Jarryd Hayne

Between 2006-14, the two-time Dally M Medal winner was as devastating as they came and excelled not only at full-back but showed he was good enough to play anywhere in the backline.

In his 13 years of playing in the NRL, Hayne spent most of his time with Parramatta Eels and showed his value as a prolific try scorer and a player who could completely turn the tide in any game. In his entire career, he played 214 games and scored 121 tries while playing for both Parramatta and Gold Coast Titans.

James Tedesco

Over the last two years, Tedesco has probably played some of the best rugby of his career where his speed, impeccable ability to break through tackles and rack up the metres have consistently placed his side on the front foot.

The 27-year-old began his career with Wests Tigers in 2012 where he scored 50 tries in 90 appearances before moving to Sydney Roosters in 2018 and from there, he became a key member of the Chooks’ back-to-back NRL title wins and New South Wales’ Origin series victories in both 2018 and 2019.

Brett Stewart

A one-club player who spent his 14-year career with Manly where he became an invaluable member of the 2008 and 2011 Championship winning sides. Alongside his brother Glenn, Steve Matai, David Williams, Jamie Lyon, Matt Ballin and Anthony Watmough, they formed one of the most formidable teams the NRL has seen to date.

In 233 appearances for the Sea Eagles, Stewart scored 163 tries and ended his career sixth on the all-time Australian Rugby League try scoring charts.

Honourable Mentions

Nathan Merritt, Clinton Schifcofske and Brett Hodgson.