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Immortals to be rugby league's top honour

A couple of league's best players, Artie and the King, were Immortalised by RLW. (AAP Image/Gillian Ballard)
Expert
19th March, 2018
28

NRL boss Todd Greenberg yesterday flagged two new Immortals will be named in August, and six new Hall of Fame inductees.

Seeing there are only eight Immortals, and 35 Hall of Famers, being in the former category holds the greater recognition.

For the first time in the code’s history both categories are now owned by the Australian Rugby League Commission, having purchased the Immortal status from the now folded Rugby League Week, the original owners since 1981.

Both categories have been shabbily treated by owners over the years, so it’s time for the Commission to correct a raft of wrongs.

RLW named four Immortals in 1981 – Clive Churchill, Reg Gasnier, Johnny Raper, and Bobby Fulton.

But it took 18 long years before adding Graeme Langlands and Wally Lewis, another four with Artie Beetson, and nine more years with Andrew Johns.

As shabby as that system was, RLW also failed to recognise obvious legends like Ken Irvine, Norm Provan, Ron Coote, Peter Sterling, Mal Meninga, Brad Fittler, and Darren Lockyer on the way.

Artie Beetson and Wally Lewis

(AAP Image/Gillian Ballard)

The Commission must correct those major mistakes.

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But the ARL hasn’t been too flash either, naming its first Hall of Famers in 2002, then adding every year until 2007, before going to sleep with not one new inductee in 11 years.

Those failings must also be corrected.

For the record only eight rugby league legends are recognised with the max as Immortals, Hall of Famers, members of the Team of the Century, and among the greatest 100 players of all time: Clive Churchill, Reg Gasnier, Johnny Raper, Bobby Fulton, Graeme Langlands, Wally Lewis, Artie Beetson, and Andrew Johns.

There are also eight Hall of Famers, Team of the Century members, and among the greatest 100 players of all time: Brian Bevan, Frank Burge, Ron Coote, Duncan Hall, Ken Irvine, Mal Meninga, Dally Messenger, and Norm Provan.

How Noel Kelly has missed being a Hall of Famer as a Team of the Century member, and among the 100 greatest players, is another major mistake.

There are 20 with the double as Hall of Famers, and among the 100 greatest players of all time: Keith Barnes, Harry Bath, Dave Brown, Brian Carlson, Jimmy Craig, Laurie Daley, Charley ‘Chook’ Fraser, Tom Gorman, Arthur Halloway, Vic Hey, Keith Holman, Harold Horder, Ken Kearney, Chris McKivat, Joe Pearce, Sandy Pearce, Peter Sterling, Duncan Thompson, George Treweek, and Harry Wells.

And the balance – 61 – are the rest of the 100 greatest players of all time who will become Hall Of Famers in August, according to Greenberg: Vic Armbruster, Jack Beaton, Cec Blinkhorn, Kerry Bousted, Roy Bull, “Chimpy” Busch, Billy Cann, Brian Clay, Arthur Clues, Bradley Clyde, Ted Courtney, Michael Cronin, Les Cubitt, Brian Davies, Dan Dempsey, Graham Eadie, Andrew Ettingshausen, Viv Farnsworth, Brad Fittler, Dan Frawley, Peter Gallagher, Herb Gilbert, Eric Grothe snr, Howard Hallett, Brian Hambly, Les Johns, Brett Kenny, Johnny King, Terry Lamb, Glenn Lazarus, Darren Lockyer, Eddie Lumsden, Bob McCarthy, Frank McMillan, Peter Madsen, Gene Milles, Steve Mortimer, Barry Muir, Herb Narvo, Eddie Norman, Andy Norvar, John O’Neill, Kel O’Shea, Wayne Pearce, Ray Price, Wally Prigg, Tom Raudonikis, Steve Roach, Steve Rogers, Albert Rosenfeld, John Sattler, Herb Steinohrt, Ray Stehr, Arthur Summons, Viv Thicknesse, Ken Thornett, Ian Walsh, Steve Walters, Benny Wearing, Shane Webcke, and Eric Weissel.

There are some household names among those 61 who are legends in the eyes of many.

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But as is always the case, there are those who travel under the radar, who deserve recognition and haven’t got it.

Like Max Krilich, Dick Thornett, Benny Elias, Steve Menzies, and Paul Sironen to name a few.

Hopefully down the track they will get their rightful recognition.