Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Queensland is hot off the heels of a historic State of Origin series victory, with halves Cameron Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans leading the way.
However, Queensland’s greatest halves pairing in State of Origin is arguably Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk, two first-ballot Immortals who are easily Queensland legends, but who is better?
Both played as a dominant half who controlled their team’s attack, and both were extremely good at it.
With that in mind, we’ll be taking a look at how Thurston and Cronk’s team and individual honours match up.
Throughout his career, Johnathan Thurston won two premierships, one with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in 2004 as an injury replacement where he did not have a memorable performance and the second as the captain of the North Queensland Cowboys in 2015 where he was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal winner.
Cooper Cronk has been in six Grand Final winning sides and has won four premierships (Melbourne Storm were stripped of the 2007, 2009 premierships). The two most memorable of the bunch coming in 2012 where he was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal, and in 2018 when he took the field with a broken arm.
In the representative arena, Thurston would appear for the Queensland Maroons on 37 occasions and for the Australian Kangaroos 38 times, which included 11 Origin series wins and a World Cup victory in 2013.
Cooper Cronk would play for Queensland 22 times, playing his first two series coming off the bench and was apart of seven series wins with the Maroons. He also earned 38 Australian caps, winning two World Cup victories, one in 2013 and the other in 2017.
In terms of individual honours, Johnathan Thurston was named Dally M Halfback of the Year in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2015. He would also win four Dally M Player of the Year Medals in 2005, 2007, 2014 and 2015. He has also won the Dally M Five-Eighth of the Year in 2012, 2013 and 2014, the RLPA Player of the Year in 2005, 2013, 2014 and 2015, the RLIF Back of the Year in 2007, the Wally Lewis Medal in 2008, the RLIF Halfback of the Year in 2009, the RLIF Five-Eighth of the Year in 2012, the Provan Summons Medal in 2014 and 2015, Clive Churchill and Dally M Captain of the Year honours in 2015, and the Golden Boot Award in 2011, 2013 and 2015.
Cronk’s list of individual awards is not as lengthy as Thurston but is still quite impressive. In 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2016 he was named Dally M Halfback of the Year, the Dally M Player of the Year in 2013 and 2016, the RLIF Halfback of the Year in 2012, the Clive Churchill Medal Winner in 2012, and awarded the Golden Boot Award in 2016.
No matter who you believe was better, it cannot be denied that Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk were two of their generation’s greatest players.