Modern-day star Jason Taumalolo has swamped the greats of yesteryear to be crowned Simply The Best lock over the past three decades.
Taumalolo faced off against Canberra Hall of Famer Bradley Clyde after the initial 10-man shortlist was trimmed to the final two candidates but the Tongan international ended up winning the head-to-head match-up in convincing fashion.
Broncos stalwart Corey Parker was third ahead of another recent retiree, Cronulla's Paul Gallen.
"I’m extremely humbled to be named the best lock of the last 30 years," he told NRL.com.
"Just being mentioned alongside the players who were nominated is a huge honour in itself. Winning an award voted on by the fans is always special and I’d like to thank them all for their continued support."
NRL.com recently launched the search for the Simply The Best players from 1990 to now to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the iconic Tina Turner promotional campaign, which was again featured in this year's advertisement for the Telstra Premiership.
- Billy Slater kicked off proceedings by winning the fullback poll in a landslide.
- The race to select the wingers was a beauty with Wendell Sailor and Hazem El Masri nudging out Brett Morris and Manu Vatuvei.
- Mal Meninga and Greg Inglis swept all before them to be named the centres.
- Darren Lockyer was a runaway winner for the five-eighth's title.
- Johnathan Thurston eclipsed Andrew Johns to be named the best halfback.
The NRL.com newsroom initially narrowed the race to be the best lock down to a shortlist of 10.
There have been so many standouts in the No.13 jersey during the past three decades that the likes of Billy Moore, Luke Ricketson, Dallas Johnson, Jason Smith, Alan Tongue, Nik Kosef and Travis Norton did not make the shortlist.
Simply The Best lock nominees
(in alphabetical order)
Bird played 235 matches over a 14-year NRL career with the Sharks and Titans but it was on the representative stage where he really thrived, playing in 18 State of Origins for NSW and 17 Tests for Australia. Widely regarded for his grit and aggression, Bird also had the playmaking nous to star at five-eighth – where he won man of the match honours in consecutive games for the Blues in 2007 and 2008.
Sam Burgess career highlights
Already an international star for England before joining the Rabbitohs, Burgess became a South Sydney legend when he won the Clive Churchill Medal in their drought-breaking 2014 grand final victory over the Bulldogs. A hard-as-nails enforcer who could also find his way to the tryline, Burgess earned Dally M Lock of the Year and RLIF Player of the Year awards in his time at Souths and was one of the NRL's most dominant players of the 2010s.
96. Bradley Clyde - Hall of Fame
A tireless, tackle-busting forward who revolutionised the lock role in his time at the Canberra Raiders, the Hall of Famer is a two-time premiership-winner and a two-time Clive Churchill Medal winner, also winning the Dally M Lock of the Year award twice. Clyde played 21 internationals for Australia and a dozen State of Origin matches for NSW and was inducted into the NRL Hall of Fame in 2008.
Dymock extends Blues lead at the MCG
A ball-playing lock/five-eighth who won the Dally M Lock of the Year award three times – twice for the Bulldogs and once for the Eels – Dymock was also the Clive Churchill Medal winner in 1995 after a dominant display in Canterbury's grand final win over Manly. He represented Australia at the 1995 World Cup and played six matches for NSW in the late 1990s.
Eclipsing ET: Gallen becomes Sharks' greatest
A long-term captain of NSW and Cronulla, three-time Dally M Lock of the Year and a proud one-club player, Paul Gallen racked up plenty of milestones across 19 seasons in the top grade. A no-nonsense forward who frequently topped the hit-up counts and run metre tallies, Gallen played 32 Tests and 24 Origins and made a massive 348 NRL appearances.
Kennedy barges over as Knights run riot
A powerful ball runner and a punishing defender, Kennedy switched from rugby to begin his NRL career with a four-year stint at Canberra from 1996, rising into the Origin ranks with NSW. He became an international after switching to Newcastle in 2000 and starred in their grand final win the following year. He ended his career with a dominant two-season stint at Manly before retiring in 2006 after 195 first-grade games, 13 Origins and 16 Tests.
Brad Mackay's Origin four-pointers
A versatile player who could fill a role in the backline but thrived at lock, earning 17 State of Origin selections for NSW and a dozen Tests for Australia, Mackay began his career with St George in the late 1980s before going on to play for the Western Reds, Illawarra Steelers, and the merged St George Illawarra Dragons.
A crucial cog in the Brisbane line-up for 16 seasons and a goal-kicking forward who was one of the league's most prolific offloaders, Parker could do it all. A stats machine beloved by fantasy footy coaches, Parker played 13 Tests and 19 Origins for Queensland at a time when the Maroons dominated the interstate rivalry.
A ball-playing lock who was a focal point of Manly's dominant run in the late 2000s and early 2010s, Stewart was the Dally M Second Rower of the Year in 2008 before playing lock in that season's grand final – a 40-0 demolition of the Melbourne Storm. He won the Clive Churchill Medal in the Sea Eagles' next grand final win over the Warriors in 2011 and represented NSW and Australia five times each.
Jason Taumalolo in focus
With a combination of size, speed, power and footwork that is unrivalled in the NRL, Taumalolo is a three-time lock of the year and 2016 Dally M winner who helped the Cowboys to their first premiership in 2015. His defection from New Zealand to Tonga in 2017 revolutionised the international game, with Tonga reaching the semi-finals in that year's World Cup and going on to defeat Great Britain and Australia in 2019.