Six of the greatest scrum-halfs in NRL history

Zach Holland

We look at six of the greatest players who have worn the number seven jersey in the NRL.

Cooper Cronk

A player that you had to sit back and watch intently to understand his true greatness. The former Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters half-back had a phenomenal rugby IQ that allowed him to squeeze every form of potential out of himself as he only got better and better as the years went on.

In his 16-year career, he went on to appear in a staggering nine NRL Grand Finals, winning two with Sydney and one legitimate title with Melbourne. The dynamic number seven is also a one-time Golden Boot winner (2016), a two-time Dally M Player of the Year (2013 and 2016) and a five time Dally M Half-back of the Year (2006, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2016).

Johnathan Thurston

A legend of the modern game who has no doubt cemented himself as one of the greatest goal kickers and all-round players the game has seen.

It is astounding to think that JT only ever won the single NRL title in 2015 but even still, his whole career is littered with accolades that honoured him as one of the best in the sport. The former Queensland and Australia scrum-half’s individual accomplishments is highlighted by his record three Golden Boot awards (2011, 2013 and 2015), four Dally M Player of the Years (2005, 2007, 2014 and 2015) and four Dally M Half-back of the Years (2005, 2007, 2009 and 2015). Thurston finished playing as the third all-time highest points scorer in Australian Rugby League history with 2,222 points to his name.

Andrew Johns

For many years, the Newcastle Knights man was dubbed as the best half-back in the world and those who had the pleasure of seeing Johns at work can undoubtedly testify to that.

Between 1993-07, he was a two-time Premiership winner with the Knights as well as becoming a two-time Golden Boot winner (1999 and 2001), a three-time Dally M Player of the Year (1998, 1999 and 2002) and a four-time Dally M Half-back of the Year (1995, 1998, 1999 and 2002). The New South Wales and Australia legend finished his career as the highest points scorer in first-grade history with 2.176 and it would stay that way until being overtaken by Hazem El Masri, Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston. Johns’ legacy was further secured in 2008 as he was voted the country’s greatest player of the last 30 years in publication ‘Rugby League Week’ as well as being named as the 8th immortal of Australian Rugby League in 2012.

Stacey Jones

The little New Zealand general was as talented as they came during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The Kiwi captain’s best year came in 2002 when he claimed the Golden Boot award as well as being invaluable member of a New Zealand Warriors side that reached that year’s NRL Grand Final. Despite his smaller stature, Jones was still able to dominate games with his quick turn of pace, great eye for a pass and ability to find the gaps in defences.

Daly Cherry-Evans

Similar to his Maroons team-mate Michael Morgan, Cherry-Evans may not be the most spectacular to watch but the Manly captain more than makes up for it with his game management and general knowledge – making him one of the standout half-backs of the 2010s.

The 31-year-old burst on to the scene in 2011, winning Rookie of the Year honours as well as playing a vital role in the Sea Eagles’ 2011 Grand Final win over the New Zealand Warriors. In his nine years in the league, he has been consistently been a top five half-back and has proved to be great leader at all levels.

Scott Prince

Now, this may seem like a selection that is a little out there but when you look over Prince’s career, he was easily one of the most solid and consistent half-backs throughout his time in the league.

Prince may have been behind the likes of Cronk and Thurston in Australia selection, but he was still a great performer to watch throughout his years in the NRL. After winning North Queensland’s Rookie of The Year award in his debut season in 1998, he went on to join Brisbane in 2000 but injuries would hamper his progress. After joining Wests Tigers in 2004, he went on to captain the side in their 2005 NRL title win while also claiming the Clive Churchill Medal for a man of the match display in the Grand Final. By 2007, he joined the Titans where he became a highly valuable points scorer and to this day, Prince still holds the record for most points as a Titans player as well as most points in a single game and season for the Queensland-based side.

Honourable mentions

Brett Kimmorley, Matt Orford, Craig Gower, Mitchell Pearce, Shaun Johnson and Adam Reynolds.