Origin Knockout: Round 1 (Qld, Part 2)
The Holden State of Origin series is as big as ever, and to celebrate NRL.com is asking fans to name their favourite Origin player of the century so far.
We've selected 64 players – 32 from each state – who have played Origin since 2000 and pitted them against each other in a knockout tournament, and you'll decide which players advance through each round.
Here's the second batch of eight match-ups featuring some of the Maroons' best. Make your votes for who should survive to Round 2.
Johnathan Thurston v Matt Bowen
Johnathan Thurston: The man known as 'JT' carries a huge burden on his relatively narrow shoulders as the source of inspiration for the Cowboys, Maroons and Kangaroos in attack, and he rarely fails to deliver. Boasting possibly the most competitive spirit in rugby league, Thurston combines that never-say-die attitude with the complete package of playmaking skills – with a great passing game, a sharp running game, an infamous dummy, a knack for setting up tries with kicks and a great goal-kicking right boot as well.
Matt Bowen: One of the modern game's great entertainers, Bowen actually started his Origin career two years before his North Queensland Cowboys partner-in-crime Johanthan Thurston, but made his mark for the Maroons alongside his club teammate in 2005 with a match-winning intercept try from a Brett Kimmorley pass. Bowen finished with four tries from 10 games between 2003 and 2007.
Justin Hodges v Ben Ikin
Justin Hodges: From talented bad boy to Brisbane Broncos captain, Hodges enjoyed a rapid rise in the rugby league world and a State of Origin career stretching back to 2002. A dynamic ball-runner and a constant threat on the right edge, Hodges has been a key reason for Queensland's dominance of the series between 2006 and 2013.
Ben Ikin: Became the youngest Origin player in history at the age of 18 when called up to Paul Vautin's under-strength Queensland side amidst the Super League war in 1995, and helped complete a stunning series sweep with a try in Game Three. Ikin went on to play 17 matches for his state.
Cooper Cronk v Darius Boyd
Cooper Cronk: Stuck behind Darren Lockyer and Johnathan Thurston, Cronk had to work harder than most to get his shot at Origin footy; the Melbourne playmaker had already earned a Dally M Halfback of the Year award and played in the first of his 27 Test matches three years before he made his first appearance for Queensland – as a bench utility. The Maroons' transition plans paid off when Lockyer retired at the end of 2011, with Cronk slotting into the halfback role and guiding his side to two more series wins.
Darius Boyd: He may have a mixed reputation off the field but Boyd has been a regular presence on the wing for Queensland (and at fullback for Wayne Bennett-coached NRL teams) since 2008, sharing the record for most Origin tries (15) with Maroons teammate Greg Inglis. His combination with Inglis on the left edge has been causing headaches for Blues defenders for years, with Boyd rarely making a mistake in attack or defence in a Queensland jersey.
Billy Slater v Karmichael Hunt
Billy Slater: Arguably the best fullback in an era of great rugby league fullbacks, Billy Slater debuted for Queensland on the wing in his second season of first-grade before battling with Karmichael Hunt for the fullback role. By 2009 the No.1 jersey was his, as the Maroons, and the following year Slater was the Wally Lewis Medal winner as Queensland's best player. He's now played 25 Origin matches (more than Andrew Johns or Laurie Daley) and ranks third for all Origin try-scorers.
Karmichael Hunt: Before bouncing between footy codes, Karmichael Hunt was battling Billy Slater and Matt Bowen for the Queensland No.1 jersey – and often winning the battle. A super-talented ball-runner and playmaker, Hunt played 10 times for his state and 11 for his country in league, bouncing between fullback, five-eighth and the bench as the Maroons tried to juggle a group of talented outside backs.
Greg Inglis v Israel Folau
Greg Inglis: One of the most freakish talents rugby league has produced, Inglis has become of one of the NRL's best fullbacks but still plies his trade in the centres at Origin level, sharing the record for most Origin tries ever with 15. The 2009 player of the series, Inglis is another player whose Origin career began at the dawn of Queensland's record-breaking streak.
Israel Folau: Before becoming the highest-paid player at the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the best player at the NSW Waratahs, Folau made his name in the NRL as a prodigious natural talent. Folau scored four tries in his debut series in 2008 – including a double in his man-of-the-match performance in the decider – and remained on the wing for Queensland for the next two years. At 26 years of age, there's still plenty of time for Folau to come back and test himself in Australia's toughest footy code once again.
Lote Tuqiri v Wendell Sailor
Lote Tuqiri: Big, fast, and skilful, Tiquiri formed a formidable Maroons wing partnership with fellow Broncos superstar Wendell Sailor in 2001 before both made the switch to rugby in the following years. Tuqiri scored five tries in just six Origin games at the start of the decade, quickly becoming a Test regular and the game's best winger, and returned to league after his union years to play four more Tests for the Kangaroos.
Wendell Sailor: The larger-than-life winger was a fixture for the Maroons during his time at the Broncos, taking man-of-the-match honours in the 1999 series decider and finishing his Origin career in Queensland's 2-1 series win in 2001, before switching codes to rugby union. At 6'3 and more than 100kg, Sailor was the prototype of the modern rugby league winger.
Gorden Tallis v Nate Myles
Gorden Tallis: A barnstorming ball-running and one of Origin's most fearsome defenders, with an attitude typified by his legendary tackle on Brett Hodgson in 2002 – when he dragged the NSW fullback for a dozen metres and threw him over the sideline like a rag-doll. The Queensland skipper at the time was no stranger to controversy (he's just one of two players to have been sent off in an Origin game) but he was a player the Maroons faithful loved and Blues fans loved to hate.
Nate Myles: One of Origin's fiercest competitors, Myles has had a long-running rivalry with NSW skipper Paul Gallen (one that they started to patch up as part of NRL One Community's subtly brilliant "What's Your State of Mind?" campaign). Myles's Origin career began in Game I, 2006 – the start of Queensland's eight-year series streak – and he's played 26 matches since then, winning the Wally Lewis Medal for player of the series in 2012.
Michael Crocker v Sam Thaiday
Michael Crocker: One of those "made-for-Origin" players that Queensland has a knack for producing, Crocker was no stranger to the big stage. He played in five NRL grand finals and made 13 appearances for his state (and about 13 more in front of the judiciary) during a career spent at powerhouse clubs the Roosters, Storm and Rabbitohs.
Sam Thaiday: A rampaging forward who has spent his entire career at the Broncos, Thaiday has been a fixture for Queensland and Australia since 2006. A barnstorming ball-runner who can do the hard yards at prop and is equally capable of playing the full 80 in the second row, Thaiday doesn't mind getting involved in the rough stuff on the Origin stage – something that has put Blues fans offside at times but endeared him to Maroons die-hards.