17. Duncan Thompson

Duncan Thompson was regarded as one of the sharpest halfback tacticians to play the game.

His ability to create an overlap, to surprise opponents with a blindside rush, or to beat a man with a pass was said to be years ahead of its time.

Thompson's career was almost cut short by World War I, when he suffered a gunshot wound that led to doctors informing him that he would never play sport again.

But Thompson defied the medicos, resuming his rugby league career in 1919.

A transfer with the bank resulted in Thompson linking with North Sydney in 1920, where he was to guide the club to successive premiership victories in 1921–22 (the second year as captain).

He played nine Tests for Australia, including the second Test against England in 1920 when Australia won the Ashes for the first time at home. Thompson was a controversial selection, but he silenced any detractors with a display that was regarded as one of the finest ever by a halfback.

Thompson returned to Queensland and was a force behind the emergence of the Toowoomba Clydesdales as a powerhouse of the game. To the great Queensland and Australian front-rower Herb Steinohrt, he was ''without a doubt the best attacking halfback in the history of the game''.

Thompson later turned to coaching where many of his philosophies became the accepted practice throughout the game.

Position: Halfback.

Clubs: St Paul's Ipswich 1911–15; Wests Newcastle 1915; North Sydney 1916, 1920–23; Starlights Ipswich 1919; Valleys Toowoomba 1924–25.

Club landmarks: Won premierships with North Sydney 1921, 1922 (captain).

Games for NSW: Two (1921–22).

Games for Queensland: 17 (1915–25).

Tests for Australia: Nine (1919–24).

Representative landmarks: Kangaroo tour 1921–22; Australian tour of New Zealand 1919.