Benji gets fans' nod as Kiwis' greatest ever
Evergreen Wests Tigers playmaker Benji Marshall has earned the most votes from fans as New Zealand's best rugby league player of all time.
Marshall pipped fellow half Stacey Jones and enforcer Ruben Wiki to get the No.1 spot.
NRL.com selected of the most dominant Kiwi players to lace on the boots since the flood of Kiwis entered the Australian premiership in the 1980s. Read on for the full list and see how the fans voted at the end of the article.
The top 10
Regarded as one of the greatest second-rowers at club and Test level, Graham was the first Kiwi inducted into the NRL Hall of Fame after a playing career which began at Norths Devils in the Brisbane competition in 1979 and finished in England. The North Sydney Bears legend captained the Kiwis on 18 occasions and was later named player of the century.
Former Kiwi halfback Freeman played 151 first-grade games across four clubs and represented New Zealand on 46 occasions. Nicknamed "Wiz" by his teammates, Freeman was voted NZ's player of the year twice during his career. He was regarded as one of the most competitive players of his era.
Known as the Warriors' little maestro throughout his NRL career, Jones played 261 games for the club and captained New Zealand in seven of his 46 Test appearances with the Kiwis, scoring 160 points. Jones was named in New Zealand's Team of the Century in 2007 after making his senior debut as an 18-year-old in 1995 and was also given Hall of Fame status in 2019.
Arguably one of the toughest forwards of his era, the Hall of Famer was the first Kiwi to pass the elusive 300 NRL games mark following stints at the Raiders and Warriors. He is the most capped New Zealand international with 55 Test appearances – captaining on 18 occasions. He guided the side to an emphatic 24-0 win over Australia in the 2005 Tri-Nations final to secure a first series win against the Kangaroos in 52 years.
One of only two active players on the list, Marshall is a 308-game veteran entering his 18th season at the NRL. The Wests Tigers playmaker has 31 Test caps under his belt after a dominant career that began in 2003. He helped guide the Kiwis to an upset World Cup final victory over the Kangaroos in 2008 with a one try and two goal performance.
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney played 45 games at Test level across a rugby league career that spanned 13 years. He started at Western Suburbs before a four-year stint at Auckland. His final six years were at Melbourne where he was part of the club's 1999 premiership success. He scored 37 tries from 264 first grade appearances.
Sonny Bill Williams
Although he has only represented New Zealand on 12 occasions in rugby league, his brand has spread worldwide after success in league and rugby union. Williams won two premierships at Canterbury and the Sydney Roosters respectively across two stints in the 13-man code. Dubbed one of the most talented forwards to play the game, Williams last played for the Kiwis at the 2013 World Cup.
The Warriors captain is coming into his ninth season in the NRL after making his senior debut as a teenager. The 26-year-old was crowned the game's best player in 2018 to win the Dally M medal ahead of Kalyn Ponga and Luke Brooks. He reached his 20th Test milestone for the Kiwis in last year's Lions Tour against England. His footwork and speed are arguably his best traits and lead to plenty of attack happening around him.
The centre then forward will go down as one of the most consistent Kiwi performances at both club and international level. The rangy back-rower notched his 300th NRL appearance before calling it quits in 2018. He represented the Kiwis on 45 occasions to rank fifth on the all-time list.
The former Roosters stalwart represented the Kiwis on 32 occasions between 1982 and 1990. He was a joint winner of the Golden Boot award in 1989 alongside Peter Sterling and after captaining the club for many years, he later worked at the Roosters in an administrative capacity.