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JT gets jump on Joey to be named best kicker in modern era

Johnathan Thurston has got one over Immortal Andrew Johns after being voted the best kicker in general play in the modern era.

After more than 105,000 votes, "JT" got the jump on "Joey" in a close finish.

Johns initially tallied more votes when the 10-man shortlist was announced but Thurston leapfrogged him when head-to-head polls were launched on the official NRL Instagram and Facebook accounts to decide once and for all which player was Simply The Best kicker in general play. 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, and is calling on the fans to have their say on a range of topics on the modern era.

The newsroom initially narrowed this contest down to the best 10 candidates.

Such was the strength of the options, there was no room for the likes of Jamie Soward, Andrew Walker, Todd Carney and Brad Fittler.

Best NRL kickers of the past 30 years

(in alphabetical order)

Greg Alexander

Alexander burst onto the scene as a 19-year-old in 1984, collecting Dally M Rookie of the Year honours and serving notice of what was to come over the next 15 years.

Greg Alexander boots the ball for Penrith in 1999.
Greg Alexander boots the ball for Penrith in 1999. ©NRL Photos

The man they call 'Brandy' possessed a briliant tactical kicking game which was a centrepiece of Penrith's memorable grand final win over the Raiders in 1991. Alexander could force opponents back with a raking long kick or set up a try with an astute grubber or pinpoint bomb. And just for good measure he could kick goals as well.

Kangaroos halfback Cooper Cronk in 2014.
Kangaroos halfback Cooper Cronk in 2014. ©NRL Photos

Cooper Cronk

As Matthew Johns told Rugby League Week in 2017, 'Cooper's secret is that he just works harder on his game than anyone I've ever seen'.  And what those hours of practice delivered was one of the most complete kicking games of all-time.

Cronk steered the Storm and Roosters around the paddock like a chess master during a stellar 372-game career which delivered two Dally M Medals and a staggering nine grand final appearances.

Whether it be a chip over the top for Billy Slater, a clearing kick or an outrageous banana kick across to Maroons winger Val Holmes for a try, Cronk could produce it on cue when the situation demanded a special play. 

Andrew Johns

Rugby league's eighth Immortal could do just about anything on a footy field and, like Cronk, his unbreakable work ethic was pivotal to his success.

From the age of four he started honing his ball skills playing soccer in Cessnock and by the time he debuted with his beloved Knights 15 years later, 'Joey' had it on a string.

Knights Immortal Andrew Johns.
Knights Immortal Andrew Johns. ©NRL Photos

Johns' spiralling torpedo bombs were a nightmare for fullbacks and he'd also torment opponents with a little party trick where he'd face left and chip the ball off the outside of his foot, back towards runners coming through on his right.

Stacey Jones

The champion Kiwi was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2019, a fitting reward for a magnificent career at club and international level in which his all-round kicking skills were the centerpiece of countless victories.

"The Little General" was renowned for coming up big and his tactical nous took the Warriors all the way to the grand final in 2002, where they eventually succumbed to the Roosters.

Equally adept at the towering bomb and pinpoint grubber, Jones was the conductor when the Warriors were at their flamboyant best in the early 2000s.

Blues halfback Brett Kimmorley kicks in 2010.
Blues halfback Brett Kimmorley kicks in 2010. ©NRL Photos

Brett Kimmorley

Whether he was representing one of six clubs through his lengthy NRL career, NSW or Australia, "Noddy" was always his team's go-to kicker.

He was such a top-quality playmaker that he was selected at halfback several times at rep level ahead of Andrew Johns, who was switched to hooker or the bench.

Kimmorley could arrow a kick downfield with precision but also possessed a quality short kicking game which kept defensive lines on their toes all the time.

Allan Langer tries a short kick for Queensland in 1994.
Allan Langer tries a short kick for Queensland in 1994. ©NRL Photos

Allan Langer

The master of the little grubber behind the line, Langer didn't have the biggest boot but just like in most areas of rugby league, size was not an issue for "Alfie".

Opposition forwards lived in fear of Langer running to the line, slipping in a dribbling kick behind the line and then regathering before scoring himself or sending a pass wide to one of his many fleet-footed outside backs for Brisbane, Queensland and Australia.

Darren Lockyer

Like everything he did on the football field, Lockyer's left boot was all class.

Maroons legend Darren Lockyer.
Maroons legend Darren Lockyer. ©NRL Photos

He could hoof the ball great distances, set up towering bombs, land field goals from long range and kick goals from virtually anywhere on the field.

Especially when he moved to five-eighth in the second half of his illustrious career, "Locky" was a talented organiser of his team with a peerless ability to kick them out of trouble or on the attack.

Cameron Smith puts up a bomb in 2013.
Cameron Smith puts up a bomb in 2013. ©NRL Photos

Cameron Smith

As he's done so in many chapters of the rugby league record books, Smith's endurance and evergreen ability in kicking has been phenomenal.

A halfback in his junior years fostered his ability to kick in general play and he revolutionised the hooker's role with his ability to be an extra option in attack by kicking for support players or by getting his team out of its own territory with a boomer from dummy-half.

Ricky Stuart and David Furner on the field together.
Ricky Stuart and David Furner on the field together. ©NRL Photos

Ricky Stuart

Most modern-day rugby league players modelled their kicking game on Stuart.

For the Raiders, NSW and Australia, he was constantly a threat with his mix of long, short, high and low kicks, forming a particularly potent attacking threat with speedy fullback Brett Mullins, who was the beneficiary of many "Sticky" pin-point kicks.

Cowboys maestro Johnathan Thurston.
Cowboys maestro Johnathan Thurston. ©NRL Photos

Johnathan Thurston

A natural kicker who always had defenders guessing what he'd do next whenever he dropped the Steeden onto his right boot.

"JT" was a maestro with his kicking game for the Cowboys, Maroons and Kangaroos and his wobbly field goal to win the 2015 grand final in extra time for North Queensland will live long in rugby league folklore.