Origin Knockout: Lockyer v Johns
It's come down to this. The fans have crowned Darren Lockyer Queensland's player of the 21st century and Andrew Johns the Blues' best since 2000, and now it's your turn to vote on which of the two is the best of all.
At the start of this year's State of Origin series we began our Origin Knockout poll, pitting 64 players against each other who have represented the Maroons or the Blues since the year 2000. Each week half the contenders have bowed out of contention, with Lockyer pipping Johnathan Thurston in the final round of votes among Queensland players and Johns edging out Brad Fittler to finish as the last NSW player standing.
Now there is just one match-up remaining. Who gets your vote?
Darren Lockyer holds the records for most first-grade games (355), most State of Origin appearances (36), most Australian Test appearances (59), most games as Australian captain (38), and most tries for the Kangaroos (34). He starred at the highest level as a goalkicking fullback – finishing as the leading point-scorer in his first State of Origin series – and later as a playmaking five-eighth, and was arguably the most successful captain in Origin history, bowing out after six consecutive series wins for Queensland. He also won four premierships at the Broncos.
Andrew Johns ranks second amongst all players for first-grade points (2176), third for most NSW Origin appearances (23), third for most Origin Man of the Match awards (four), and equal first for most Dally M Medals (three). He played a major role in both of Newcastle's premiership wins, and was instrumental in sealing the Blues their third straight series win in 2005 – his final year of Origin football. After Johns' exit from the Origin stage, NSW lost eight straight series. Johns may have been the Blues' most important player of the century so far – but was he better than Lockyer?