Eighth Immortal Andrew Johns.
Eighth Immortal Andrew Johns.

‘JT’s better than Joey’: NSW legend’s shock call

NSW legend Laurie Daley has made the shock revelation he believes Johnathan Thurston is already a better player than the Blues' greatest ever halfback.

Andrew Johns is the eighth Immortal and considered by many to be the best player to ever grace a rugby league field.

The likes of Darren Lockyer and Cameron Smith are also in the argument.

But Daley says the current North Queensland halfback is ahead of all the challengers, including the man he once shared a dressing shed with for State of Origin in the mid to late 1990s.

It's a big call, and holds even more gravitas given Daley's rusted-on allegiance to the Blues.

Johns led Newcastle to two premierships, was named Dally M player of the year three times, won two Golden Boot awards, represented NSW 23 times and Australia 23 times over a glittering career.

Thurston hasn't even retired from football yet but has already collected four Dally M medals, three Golden Boots, and will finish with 38 Tests for Australia and 37 Origins for Queensland.

Thurston also captained the Cowboys to the 2015 title and won another with Canterbury in 2004.

Big Sports Breakfast co-host Terry Kennedy questioned Daley's call on the grounds of defence, given Johns was a more-than-handy defender for a playmaker.

Johnathan Thurston and Andrew Johns are two of the greatest ever players.
Johnathan Thurston and Andrew Johns are two of the greatest ever players.

"What Thurston can do is just put his body in the line. He stops the opposition so other people can come in and help him," Daley explained.

"His ability, game on the line, wanting the ball is the same as Joey's.

"The will to win ... Thurston competes on every play. Offensively, defensively, Thurston competes.

"Have a look when there's tries scored in big games or at club land, and while he may not stop the opposition he's always getting in the picture, he's somewhere back there and helping. That's the thing that stands out for me.

"But his record is second to none.

"If you were picking your side and picking your halfback and you had to choose out of Johns or Thurston, you wouldn't mind which one you got."

Thurston leads the Cowboys onto AAMI Park on Thursday night in a grand final rematch against Melbourne.