SYDNEY - SEPTEMBER 28: Brad Fittler #6 of the Roosters tries to rip the arm off Darren Lockyer #1 of the Broncos during the first NRL Preliminary Final between the Brisbane Broncos and the Sydney Roosters played at Aussie Stadium in Sydney, Australia on September 28, 2002. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg has announced that the NRL will announce the ninth Rugby League Immortal in 2018.

The NRL obtained the rights to the game’s most elite award and will announce its first immortal who will join the likes of Wally Lewis and Andrew Johns.

Speculation is already running rife as to who number nine might be. Only the game’s elite of the elite have been considered in the past and I can’t see that changing for the 2018 induction.

We’ve run over the names being mentioned and narrowed it down to the three modern-day players who could make the grade. I never saw the likes of Provan, Irvine, Kenny or Rogers play and can only comment on those I have enjoyed playing the game over my 32 years.

Current players such as Cameron Smith, who I consider an absolute lock for a future immortal position, have not been considered.

Darren Lockyer

Darren Lockyer is a two time Golden Boot winner, an achievement made even more incredible due to the fact he won it playing in two different positions. Lockyer was arguably the game’s best fullback before making the switch into the halves where his legend grew even further.

He was best on ground in the Broncos 2000 Grand Final win and stared in four other grand final victories. He captained arguably the best Broncos side in history from 2005 until he retired in 2011 where he won two Dally M positional awards.

Without doubt, the greatest player not to win a Dally M medal he played over 350 games for the Broncos, 36 times for Queensland (twice more under the Super League banner) and represented the Kangaroos 59 times (plus four in Super League).

His match and series winning try in game three of the 2006 State of Origin series is one of the game’s most iconic moments. It kicked off the concept’s greatest modern day streak of eight series wins, many of which Lockyer played a crucial and starring role in.

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If Lockyer is overlooked for the 2018 honours it looks a matter of when and not if the Broncos, Queensland and Kangaroo legend will take up his rightful place in rugby league’s best of the best.

Brad Fittler

I remember Brad Fittler being an amazing player but his stats are even more impressive than first thought. He played 336 games across stints at the Panthers and then the Roosters while playing 31 times for the Blues and a further 40 times for the Kangaroos.

Fittler captained the Kangaroos to World Cup victories in both 1995 and 2000 while earning a third WC win previously in 1992. When he retired he was the most capped NSW player of all time where he captained on 14 occasions.

He made his Origin and national debut at only 18 years of age. He has a Rothman’s medal as the league’s best player from the 1997 ARL season. He led his Roosters side to three straight Grand Finals including their 2002. This was after also leading the side to the 2000 decider.

Fittler’s contributions were such that the medal for New South Wales best player in an Origin series is named after him.

He also won the Golden Boot award in the year 2000. If Lockyer isn’t the best player to never win a Dally M medal (although he did win the ARL’s best and fairest award in ’97) Fittler certainly is.

Mal Meninga

Reports indicated that the 2012 vote to induct Andrew Johns into the immortals saw Mal Meninga place second. It will be no surprise at all if Meninga’s name will be heavily discussed when it comes time to vote again in 2018, and nor should it.

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My earliest memories of the game include Meninga terrorising the Great Britain defence for the Kangaroos as well as the Grand Final victory over Penrith in 1990. I had to search but the stats indicate Meninga was both top try scorer and goal kicker for the competition for the mighty Green Machine in that year.

Meninga played over 300 games in both Australia and England, while he represented Queensland on 32 occasions and the Kangaroos 46 times. He captained the Roos 23 times, including on two tours. Those who remember those Roos tours of the era will understand how big of an honour that really is.

He held multiple scoring records for both Queensland and the Kangaroos until Johnathan Thurston recently topped them. He’s currently in both the rugby league hall of fame and the Sport Australia hall of fame.

The Raiders, QLD and Kangaroos legend has also been named in both the ARL team of the century and QLD team of the centre at centre. Add to that the 1989 Golden Boot award. There aren’t many awards that Meninga hasn’t yet won, and a spot in the immortals may not be too far away.

Prediction

In my view, the three eligible players listed above are the best I’ve ever seen (adding Wally Lewis, Andrew Johns, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston). All three could make the grade at some stage but if they were to induct a modern-day player in now, for mine it would be Lockyer.

Please let us know below who you’re expecting to be in the discussion. Are any of the above worthy of the honour, or are there players from an early era you’d place in over them?

18 COMMENTS

  1. If darran Lockyer is an immortal then this is just a joke of a title…. he isn’t better then Thurston so how can he be an immortal? Couldn’t defend for the life of him and was covered his whole career by actually “GREAT” players!!! Pfff what a joke

    • You can’t be an Immortal until you’ve been retired for five years. Thurston clearly does not fit this criteria. He will be an immortal once his 5 years are up.

  2. It could be a cliff hanger between Meninga and Fittler. Both these players should one day be immortals. Fittler was a more influential player with his leadership skills and his magnificent famous side step that always through out his career made him an X factor player. His passing game was ininstrumental at 5/8 and before he came to the Roosters they had only made the semifinals once in the previous 9yrs but for the next nine years he played for them they made the semis 9 yrs straight including 4 grand finals and 2 preliminary finals. When Fittler retired after the 04 grand final the Roosters never made a the semis again until he came back in 2008 as their coach. If Andrew Johns became an immortal surley Fittler who had many more wins against Johns and in Big semi final games should of been picked before him.

    Big Mal as he was known was one of my favorite players of all time with his strength and speed, players would be bowled over all over the place when Big Mal got running. Only player that I know who played on four Kangaroo tours when Kangaroos tours were touring England, Wales & France and playing about 25 games over around a two month period. At the time he retired he was the most capped Australian player of all time. Surely that should seal the deal. One particular year in the 1990’s Big Mal score 5 tries against the Roosters and 9 goals for 38 points.

    Both these players always brought crowds to their feet with their running game. If I had to pick the next immortal then both these would be added. It has happened before that more than one immortal was immortalized at the one vote.

    • Filter was a good player but not not even close to an immortal. Brad Clyde was twice the player Fitler was. If only “modern” players are being considered then it is Meninga and daylight.

      I think we have this immortal thing all wrong. I think should start with the Hall of fame immediately expanding it to the 100 players from the last 100 years announced in 2008 with one new inductee chosen each year during the Dally M. Then every 10 years an immortal is chosen from the hall of fame. You can’t be selected for the Hall until retired at least five years and immortal ten years. The Nrl should then open a museum in Sydney celebrating our game with focus on these players.

      • Oh Tommyknocker wrong mate. Brad Fittler was a ten times better player than Clyde ever was. Fittler was a NSW & Australian and Premiership winning captain who played 336 games scored 122 tries played 40 tests and represented NSW 31 times played in 6 grand finals won a Golden Boot, Clyde was a good player but wasn’t an X factor like Fittler. Brad Clyde played 224 games scored 47 tries played 19 tests and 12 origins for NSW and played in 3 grand finals. Ray Warren made him more famous than he really was with his animated commentary. Every time Clyde made a 5 metre run Ray Warren would scream out his name like he ran 100 metres to score a try. Fittler captain Australia at lock and 5/8 and won premierships as a centre and as a 5/8 & captain.

  3. I can only comment on the players which I liked to watch – and Mal wins hand down. Just his size, speed and agility was incredible. Lockyer was a very good captain, but I don’t think he was a great player. Fittler was hot and cold in his career – once he got fired up he was brilliant, but he clocked off early a lot.

  4. Your all tripping to think for 1 second that Locky doesn’t deserve to be a immortal.

    Other then cam Smith he still Played 355 games, played finals 16 season straight . A markeyy I’m sure if U asked JT he would be the first one the say locky helped make him the player he is today. It’s one thing to comment about a player but another 2 talk s*** about a Legend.

    • Sounds like you are a Queenslander Bronco fan mate. I think you are talking crap, Why would JT say Lockyer made him the player he is today? They have never played a season in club footy together have they? And what! you do not give credit to the coach’s who have told him how to play in rep footy. Mate Lockyer may have given him a few tips but that’s about it. Now Lockyer was a great player but at the last voting in the immortal votes in 2012 Johns was ranked 1st on the criteria needed to win followed by Menninga 2nd, Fittler 3rd, Lockyer 4th. So on that information which is fact Big Mal will be the next immortal, Fittler and Lockyer must wait their turn.

  5. Paul Carige

    A player ahead of others and the game itself. Beautiful kicking game and passing with speed to burn. Shaped the way wingers play the game today.

    Anyway, if we talk about the likes of Fittler, Lockyer, Mninga…Paul Carige deserves a mention as he is just as likely

  6. Paul Carige

    A player ahead of others and the game itself. Beautiful kicking game and passing with speed to burn. Shaped the way wingers play the game today.

    Anyway, if we talk about the likes of Fittler, Lockyer, Meninga…Paul Carige deserves a mention as he is just as likely

    • Is that the Paul Carrige for Parramatta that bombed a semi-final against Canterbury in the late 1990’s? Yes he already is immortalized for the best brain snaps in the history of the game. A true immortal along with Nevile Glover, Todd Byrne, and a stack of dime wits like them that blew games from dumb actions. Who was that Souths winger who had a shocker against Canberra in the semis in the 90’s. He was at home in the second half watching it on TV.

      • Paul Carrige isn’t in the class of Joe Squadrito, Paul Doolan, Leo Epifania or even Phil Charlton. When it comes to clutching defeat from the jaws of victory in finals, he ranks behind Neville Glover (poor old Parra still scored 2 tries to 1 against MW in 1976) and Edrick Lee. The Souths winger you’re thinking of was Steve Mavin in 1987 when (I think it was) Peter Jackson kept kicking to him and his arms seemingly had nothing below the elbows – dropped everything.

        • Yes that’s the bloke Steve Mavin. I hope he did well for himself after footy. Who was Joe Suadrito and what is his infamous act on the footy field? I remember Phil Charlton who was a forward for the Berries.

        • Joe Squadrito was a centre for Souths in the late 70s and early 80s. My guess is he would have played about 50 1st grade games. My mate who is a bunnies tragic reckons he made 1 break in his entire career – and I was honoured to see it at Belmore Oval. No tales of atrocity about Joe though as far as I am aware, he just couldn’t play.

        • My recollection is that Marvelous Mavo had about 4 seasons with Souths then 1 with Canterbury. I think he would have retired before he was 25. A shame, the guy had talent.

    • Carige was a FB not a winger……he had his days but is best remembered for his major contribution to that heart breaking semi-final loss to bulldogs.
      His play to gift the bulldogs the ball and allow them to score is legendary.

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