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Opinion

Who will be rugby league's next Immortal?

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Roar Guru
28th April, 2020
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In 1981, Rugby League Week magazine came out with the concept of lifting a group of four players above all others and the Immortals concept was born.

Clive Churchill, John Raper, Reg Gasnier and Bob Fulton were all champions of the game and former Test captains, and this esteemed group had the Immortal mantle to themselves until 2003.

Since then, Graeme Langlands, Wally Lewis, Arthur Beetson, Andrew Johns, Dally Messenger, Dave Brown, Frank Burge, Norm Provan and Mal Meninga have been added to the list.

Burge was the only of the above to never win a premiership, so there is hope for many great players to get a look in. A wrong has been made right by now considering pre-war players, which was not part of the criteria until the last induction of players.

Rugby League Week has now folded and the NRL are the custodians of the concept. To be considered for induction, you have to first be in the Hall of Fame.

While Melbourne Storm champions Cameron Smith and Billy Slater will certainly be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the future, they cannot be considered for Immortal status yet.

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This puts an end to discussions that they will be granted the status sooner rather than later.

Billy Slater and Captain Cameron Smith hold the NRL Premiership trophy

Billy Slater and Captain Cameron Smith (Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)

Brad Fittler was a teenage prodigy at Penrith, where he won his first premiership and played representative football. A Hall of Fame member at both the Panthers and the Roosters, Fittler parlayed his skill as a player into a successful coaching role with New South Wales. A captain for 25 Tests, Fittler was also the Golden Boot winner in 2000.

Darren Lockyer’s credentials are hard to ignore. A four-time premiership winner and the Australian captain on 38 occasions, he was one of the finest players of his generation. As well as a prolific try scorer, his goal kicking ability was invaluable at Origin level.

Mick Cronin represented Australia while he was still playing bush football on the South Coast. Known more for his front-on toe-punting goal kicking, Cronin was a fine centre for Parramatta, NSW and Australia. A four-time premiership winner with the Eels, he won the Rothmans Medal as the Player of the Year in 1977-78.

Ron Coote was a rangy backrower for South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Eastern Suburbs Roosters. Having won six premierships as a player, Coote was voted a member of both the NSW and Australian Teams of the Century. A Test captain on three occasions, he was also the NSWRL Player of the Year in 1969-70, 1975 and 1977.

Brian Bevan is rated more highly in England than in his homeland. A try-scoring machine in the 1940s and ’50s, Bevan played for Eastern Suburbs, Warrington and Blackpool. Winning two Challenge Cups and three domestic titles in the UK, he was named in the Australian Team of the Century, and was the first player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in both England and Australia.

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Harold Horder was born around the turn of the century in Sydney and won four premierships along the way. One of the few players to set the crowd alight every time he touched the ball, Horder played for both South Sydney and North Sydney, where he won titles with both. Not unusual for the times he represented both NSW and Queensland, as well as the Kangaroos.

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