NRL boss Todd Greenberg stunned the sporting world at the SCG last night when he named five new Immortals: Dally Messenger, Frank Burge, Dave Brown, Norm Provan and Mal Meninga.
For the last few months, two new Immortals were to be selected from a ten-strong group – the first since the NRL took ownership last year of the Immortal status from the original owners Rugby League Week.
The publication made a right royal hash of its concept by inducting only eight Immortals in 37 years.
Obviously with that in mind, the NRL saw fit to up the ante to five to make up for lost time.
Earlier this week I suggested six, not believing for one minute the NRL would come to the party.
My six, in order, were Messenger, Ken Irvine, Meninga, Provan, Burge, and Ron Coote.
That left Darren Lockyer, Duncan Hall, Dave Brown, and Brian Bevan from the ten candidates.
So where to from here?
The next induction will be in four years’ time. The current thinking is to drop Irvine, Hall, and Bevan from last night, to retain Lockyer and settle on a new group of contenders.
That would be unfair, as this is the first induction by the NRL and it should be a different ball game to the past.
My suggestion is for Lockyer, Irvine, Hall and Coote to be among the next ten, leaving Bevan out.
For the final time, how can Bevan be an Australian Immortal when he never scored a try on Australian soil, nor did he ever play for NSW or Australia?
My six new contenders would be Harold Horder, Wally Prigg, Andrew Ettingshausen, Allan Langer, Brad Fittler, and Jack Gibson.
I’ve included Gibson because coaches must be added to the mix for the vital role they play in elite rugby league.
Horder played from 1912 to 1924, and his stats are phenomenal.
South Sydney – 102 tries from 77 games.
North Sydney – 50/50.
NSW – 23/9.
Australia – 11/13.
Totals – 186 tries from 161 games.
Prigg played from 1927 to 1939, debuted for NSW at 20, and was the first country boy from Newcastle to captain his country.
Individual stats weren’t kept in Newcastle, but Prigg was first picked for three Kangaroo tours.
Andrew Ettingshausen was another week-in, week-out elite footballer.
Cronulla – 165/324.
NSW – 10/30.
Australia – 14/29.
Totals – 189/383.
Allan Langer (1988-2002) was unlucky not to be included among last night’s contenders.
Broncos – 95/258.
Queensland – 11/37.
Australia – 5/25.
Totals – 111/320.
The same can be said of Fittler who played south of the border from 1989 to 2004.
Penrith – 31/119.
Roosters – 91/217.
NSW – 8/31.
Australia – 17/38.
Totals – 147/405.
Gibson coached from 1967 to 1987, winning five premierships – two in succession with Eastern Suburbs 1974-75, and three on the trot with Parramatta from 1981 to 1983.
Selecting five more Immortals in 2023 will take the total to 18, and from then on two every four years.
Never at any stage will the Immortals impact on the Hall of Fame which now has 106 members with the addition last night of Steve Menzies, Ricky Stuart, Gorden Tallis, Petero Civoniceva, Cliff Lyons and Mark Graham.
So congratulations Todd Greenberg on your first attempt.
You have done the Immortals, and the Hall of Fame, due justice overnight.