While every man and his cattledog clambers to anoint Johnathan Thurston as a future Immortal and the greatest halfback of all time, we thought we’d use Throwback Thursday as reminder of the genius of the player who has held that mantle for more than a decade, Andrew Johns.
Wearing the No.9 jersey for NSW during their record-breaking 1996 campaign, ‘Joey’ set up one of the great Origin tries for fellow Blues legend Andrew Ettingshausen in the dead-rubber at Suncorp Stadium.
Displaying footwork, evasion, two fends and sheer tenacity, Johns left five Queensland defenders in his wake in an extraordinary 50-metre run before popping a flick pass for ‘ET’ to score the first try.
NSW won a thriller 15-14 over the Allan Langer-led Queenslanders to complete a series whitewash, a feat they had achieved just once before (1986) and have managed only once since (2000). Equally remarkably, the Blues fielded the same 17 throughout the entire series – an unmatched accomplishment in 35 years of Origin.
Johns, of course, would go on to produce many more pieces of inspiration in the sky-blue jumper over the ensuing nine seasons.