We look into six of the best NRL era centres since the competition began back in 1998.
The New South Wales and Australia centre made his debut for Parramatta back in 2000 and after consistently impressing over the course of five seasons, he made the jump to Super League where he spent two years with St Helens and established himself as one of the best players in the competition after winning the Man of Steel award in his debut season in 2005.
Upon his return to the NRL in 2007 with Manly, Lyon was one of the best centres in the world and won Dally M Centre of the Year four out of five years between 2010 and 2014. Being an avid try scorer as well as an exceptional goal kicker made him the complete package as a player and by the end of his career in 2017, he made 294 NRL appearances while scoring 122 tries and tallying 1,550 points.
A naturally born athletic freak who burst on to the scene back in 2005 with Melbourne before moving to South Sydney in 2011 and throughout that time, he cemented himself as a true game changer.
The former Queensland and Australia representative had the ability to play anywhere along the backline, whether it was full-back, centre or stand-off – he was able to excel wherever he played. Throughout the late 2000s and early 2010s, the league had not seen a talent like Inglis for some time and by the end of his career in 2019, he had won several individual honours, highlighted by his Golden Boot in 2009. The Kangaroos legend retired in 2019 and scored 150 tries in 266 matches.
The Canberra Raiders captain has been one of the most consistent goal kickers since making his debut in 2009 but surprisingly, he has never had a cap for Australia.
In the last 10 years, Croker has flown up the points scoring charts and this year he became the youngest player to surpass 2,000 points and is only the seventh person to achieve the feat. If the 29-year-old continues a similar path, then he could easily be Australian Rugby League’s all-time to points scorer by the end of his career. As of March 2020, Croker made 259 appearances for the Green Machine, scoring 127 tries.
Like his twin brother Brett, the former St George Illawarra Dragons and Canterbury Bulldogs centre has developed a reputation as being trustworthy source of hard work since his debut in 2007.
The 33-year-old started his career alongside his brother at the Dragons before moving on to Canterbury in 2009 where he spent most of his career. The two-time Dally M Centre of the Year eventually moved to Cronulla in 2019 where his try scoring exploits continued. Although he has not been as consistent a face at international level as his sibling, Morris has still been a player that has been consistent throughout his career and is a great source of tries with 138 to his name thus far.
The former Brisbane and Sydney centre possessed a tough and aggressive attitude whenever he was on the field and proved to be a nuisance against most opponents.
It took a while for Hodges to fulfil his full potential but upon his return to Brisbane in 2005, he did just that – becoming a powerful spark in Brisbane’s 2006 Championship win. He made 254 appearances and scored 99 tries before retiring in 2015.
Although his career was hampered by injuries, Cooper was still one of best centres in the league on any given day.
The former St George Illawarra man developed a great partnership at centre alongside Mark Gansier, where Cooper’s hard-running and defensive tendencies were a perfect fit alongside Gasnier’s slick and creative skillset. The dreaded combo was one of the best double acts in the NRL during the 2000s, with Cooper showcasing his talents by reaching double figures in tries in a season on seven occasions with the Dragons. In 2010, he was a part of the St George Illawarra side that went on to win the NRL title in dominant fashion against the Roosters. After 14 years in the league, the former New South Wales representative had made 246 appearances and scored 126 tries.
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