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Billy's No.1: Slater crowned Simply The Best fullback

Billy Slater was "extremely humbled" after being voted Simply The Best fullback of the past three decades.

Adding further gravitas to his status as one of rugby league's all-time greats, Slater was named the No.1 from all the stars who have worn the jersey.

More than 108,000 fans voted in the online poll as well as the official NRL Instagram and Facebook accounts.

"I’m extremely humbled. Reality didn’t really sink in until I started naming the fullbacks I watched, idolised and built my game around over the last 30 years," he said.

"Everyday, every game, every season, I tried to be the best I possibly could become. I feel it a privilege for my football to be looked at in this light. Thank you."

NRL.com last week launched the search for the Simply The Best players from 1990 to now to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the iconic Tina Turner promotional campaign, which was again featured in this year's advertisement for the Telstra Premiership.

A poll will go live each Friday for each of the nine positions on the field as well as the coach who has been better than all the rest during the past 30 years.

A legend retires - Slater's career highlights

Slater won after the NRL.com newsroom narrowed the race to be the best fullback down to a shortlist of 10.

Broncos legend Darren Lockyer was the runner-up ahead of modern-day Roosters star James Tedesco and retired Maroons great Greg Inglis.

NRL.com will call on the fans to have their say from midday on Friday to decide which winger was Simply The Best over the past three decades.

It was a sign of the quality of the field that the list of notable omissions includes Raiders legend Gary Belcher - who was towards the end of his career when the Simply the Best era began in 1990, Kiwi legend Matthew Ridge, Brett Hodgson, Rhys Wesser, David Peachey, Luke Patten, Julian O’Neill, Robbie Ross, Matt Bowen and Robbie O’Davis.

Simply The Best fullback nominees

(in alphabetical order)

Looking back at the best of Boyd ahead of his 300th

Darius Boyd

A teenage star on the wing when he made his Broncos debut in 2006, he established himself as a representative player before switching to the Dragons and playing a vital role in their 2010 premiership win, taking home the Clive Churchill Medal. He has racked up more than 300 NRL games heading into his final season this year.

Cowboys fullback Tim Brasher in 2000.
Cowboys fullback Tim Brasher in 2000. ©NRL Photos

Tim Brasher

Another player who burst onto the scene as a teenager, he switched from the centres to fullback for Balmain in the early 1990s and excelled for NSW and Australia in the No.1 jersey before finishing his 244-game career with stints at South Sydney and North Queensland.

Jarryd Hayne Highlights

Jarryd Hayne

One of the most naturally gifted players of the past 30 years, he showed explosive speed and power with Parramatta after making his NRL debut in 2006, twice winning the Dally M Medal of the year. His purple patch in leading the Eels to a remarkable grand final appearance in 2009 was one of the most memorable individual finals campaigns by any player in premiership history.

Greg Inglis career highlights

Greg Inglis

Another player blessed with supreme talent, he spent a lot of his career in Melbourne playing centre or five-eighth as the Storm had Billy Slater at fullback but when he switched to South Sydney in 2011, Inglis made the No.1 jersey his own. His performance in 2014 to help guide the Rabbitohs to their first premiership in 43 years will forever remain part of club folklore.

Modern stars on why Lockyer was their idol

Darren Lockyer

Although he spent the latter stages of his career at five-eighth, Lockyer was superb in his first decade in the NRL at the back for Brisbane, Queensland and Australia, playing a starring role in the Broncos' 1998 and 2000 grand final victories.

Former Australian fullback Anthony Minichiello.
Former Australian fullback Anthony Minichiello. ©NRL Photos

Anthony Minichiello

The 2005 Golden Boot winner, he was a key member of the Sydney Roosters sides which had sustained success early in the 21st century and the NSW and Australian stalwart was still going strong at the back in the closing stages of his career, leading the club to grand final glory in 2013.

Storm great Billy Slater retired in 2018.
Storm great Billy Slater retired in 2018. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Billy Slater

Whether lining up for the Storm, Queensland or Australia, the livewire fullback from Innisfail was always in the action and had plenty of success along the way. The 2008 Golden Boot winner and Dally M player of the year three seasons later, he won two premierships with Melbourne in his 319-game career which ended in 2018.

Snake becomes 'The Prince'

Brett Stewart

The Prince of Brookvale, the speedy fullback enjoyed a phenomenal try-scoring strike rate at home for Manly and was no slouch on the road either, tallying 163 tries for the Sea Eagles in his 14-year career which included premiership victories in 2008 and 2011.

All of James Tedesco's tries from 2019

James Tedesco

The modern-day standard for fullbacks, Tedesco had an injury-interrupted start to his NRL career with the Wests Tigers but after making his State of Origin debut for NSW in 2016, he has quickly become the best of the current custodians, taking home the Dally M Medal last year to add to his premiership trophies with the Roosters during the past two seasons. He has also fended off several challengers to cement his spot as the Australian Test fullback.

RTS in focus

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

Another player who has wow factor whenever he has the ball, RTS won the Dally M Medal in 2018 and has been a constant source of speed, skill and power for the Warriors in New Zealand after initially rising to prominence on the wing at the Roosters.

 

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.