Three big nominees kick off proceedings as we strive to find the man at the back for our Menulog Team of the Decade - Greg Inglis, Rhys Wesser and Nathan Merritt.
These three players provided their own flair to the fullback position - Greg Inglis’ sheer power and individual brilliance, Rhys Wesser’s experience and leadership and Nathan Merritt’s pace and versatility.
Greg Inglis Menulog Team of the Decade - Fullback
Arguably the greatest outside back of all time, Greg Inglis was a special athlete that could flip a game on its head. When his teammates needed the big play, Greg was always the first player they would turn to. A Rugby League specimen, Greg is tall and rangy, big and powerful and displayed brute physicality as well as blistering speed. GI’s iconic right-arm carry for a left hand fend and his skip to the outside always put edge defenders in two minds - is he going to run it? Pass it? Or put through a kick?!
What Greg brought to the back was the ability to carry the football back with speed and almost always beat the first defender to then find a quick play-the-ball. His threat in backline plays as the ‘sweeper’ also gave him enough space to set up his outside men or isolate a one-out defender. His best moment at the back would have to be that brilliant individual try he scored at Suncorp Stadium in 2014!
Rhys Wesser Menulog Team of the Decade - Fullback
When Rhys Wesser came to South Sydney he was in the back-end of his career. However, what he brought to the Club more-so was his professionalism and experience. At the time, South Sydney had a very young backline and prior to Rhys they dabbled with a number of Fullbacks in a short space of time (Capewell, Simpson and Peachey to name a few).
A Premiership-winner and former Queensland State of Origin representative, we sometimes forget that at one stage he was the best Fullback in the world. Back in 2003, playing in the number one jersey for Penrith Rhys notched up a staggering 25 tries in 26 games - the most in that season!
Rhys had a couple of brilliant moments in the Red and Green including the match-winning run to set up debutant Dylan Farrell in the corner in golden point (against the Tigers in 2010) and an impossible flick pass to find Greg Inglis in space (against the Eels in 2011).
Nathan Merritt Menulog Team of the Decade - Fullback
One of South Sydney’s favourite sons, Nathan Merritt, found himself predominantly on the left flank but whenever he filled in at fullback he always turned it on!
Merritt, a runner first, developed a slick passing game when playing in the number one jersey. His biggest strength at fullback was his support play and ability to pop up at the right time. He scored a record-equaling five tries in a game against the Eels in 2011 after a late injury saw him make the shift from wing to fullback.
The Club’s leading tryscorer Nathan Merritt showed a blistering turn of speed few players could match.