We have seen some great fullbacks over the years, from Clive Churchill and Graeme Langlands, to Brett Mullins and Darren Lockyer, to current greats like Greg Inglis and Billy Slater. During the 1990’s fullbacks became much more involved, notably Darren Lockyer at the Brisbane Broncos, chiming into the backline and creating plays. That trend has continued to today where we have some great custodians running around each week. Here is Nothing But League’s top 5.
5.Matt Moylan, Penrith Panthers
Hard to believe this kid is only 23. In a break-out 2014, Moylan showed the rugby league world what he is capable of as the Panthers surprised everyone by going deep into September. He has great play-making abilities, a must in the modern game, and is safe under the high ball. He adds an extra attacking option to the Panthers’ attack and takes the pressure of Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace. Moylan has already tasted representative football, playing for City in the 2014 City/Country fixture and don’t be surprised to see him reach higher honours in the near future.
4. Brett Stewart, Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Age hasn’t wearied the Prince of Brookvale who has been a mainstay at the back for the Sea Eagles for some time now, winning premierships with the club in 2008 and 2011. With lightning speed, wonderful acceleration and excellent vision, Stewart has racked up an incredible try-scoring record of 146 tries in 200 matches to date, more remarkable considering he was restricted to just 6 games in 2009-2010 as injuries took their toll. At 29, he remains one of the premier fullbacks in the game.
3.Josh Dugan, St George Illawarra Dragons
After a troubled start to his career, where he showed plenty of promise at the Canberra Raiders, but injuries and ill-discipline held him back, Josh Dugan has settled at the Dragons and will return to his favoured fullback position in 2015. A big man, standing at 188cm and weighing 97kg, Dugan’s combination with Dragons half back Benji Marshall was a highlight for his club in 2014, and with Dugan sniffing around the ruck, look for that to continue in 2015. He has great footwork and bounces out of tackles like a pinball, causing havoc for the opposition defence.
2.Billy Slater, Melbourne Storm
There was a time, during the late 2000’s that Billy Slater reigned supreme at the back, with daylight between himself and the next best. Although in 2014, it seemed age and a decade of dominance caught up with Slater, and the Storm. Still a fantastic fullback with great speed and awareness, Slater’s career is glittered with highlights, and his record of 170 tries speaks for itself. A regular for Queensland and Australia between 2006-2013, Slater is regarded as a modern-day great and his combination with the other members of Melbourne’s Big Three, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk remains the best in the business.
1.Greg Inglis, South Sydney Rabbitohs
It takes a lot to knock Billy Slater off top spot, but Greg Inglis simply has everything. Speed, vision, strength, agility, a great passing game, strong defense, it seems unfair that one player has so many skills at his disposal. But the kid from Bowraville has it all, and has been toying with defences since he burst onto the scene in 2005. Used in a number of positions in his Melbourne Storm days, Inglis has gone to another level since moving to the Rabbitohs, playing fullback week in, week out. Such is his talent, he could play anywhere in the back line with aplomb, and does so for Queensland and Australia, where he has racked up 32 Tests, and 24 Origins. A future immortal.
*Although Brett Morris and Anthony Milford are great players, Milford is likely to play in the halves in 2015 so was not considered, while it is unsure where Morris will play, and he has limited experience at fullback.