ENGLAND - 1994: Mal Meninga of the Kangaroos poses for a photo during the Australian Kangaroos Rugby League photocall for the upcoming tour of Great Britain held in England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The NRL tonight announced the induction into the NRL Immortals of three players from pre-World War II and two post war players.

Norm Provan and Mal Meninga were selected from a short list of 10 players to be crowned the latest Immortals.

And in an historic move, the judging panel determined that three pre-war players selected on the shortlist – Dally Messenger, Dave Brown and Frank Burge – should also be recognised as Immortals.

“The judges took the view that this was a one-off opportunity to recognise the past, to recognise three players from the pre-war era who became legends of the game,” NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said.

“If the panel did not take this step we could have lost our chance to include these champion players among our Immortals.

“It was an opportunity the game could not afford to miss and the Immortals now reflect the full history of Rugby League – from 1908 to the present.”

Mr Greenberg praised the stand taken by the selection panel which also included current Immortals Wally Lewis, Bob Fulton and Andrew Johns, as well as Wayne Bennett, Phil Gould, Ray Warren, Steve Crawley and former Rugby League Week editors Ian Heads and Norm Tasker.

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Mr Heads and Mr Tasker – key figures in the ongoing story of the Immortals from 1981 – welcomed the new direction taken by the NRL.

“The reality faced was that the challenge of comparing pre-war players unseen by today’s judges – with post war players at each Immortals’ cycle – would only become more difficult year by year,” said Mr Heads, the Chair of the Panel.

“There was a prospect that the outstanding players from the past would be competing with the champions from each later generation – and that would create an increasingly crowded starting line.

“These three players each played a key role during the ‘building days” of Rugby League and the decision to recognise them as Immortals was supported by all members of the selection committee.

“Harry Bath, a former great player and coach and a founding Immortals judge of 1981 once said: Those who drink the water must never forget who dug the well.

“Having these early superstars on the Immortals Honour Board delivers on that advice.”

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Mr Heads said no one could dispute the credentials of Mal Meninga and Norm Provan.

“Mal captained his Club, his State and his Country, and was one of a kind, while Norm’s role in St George’s wonderful dynasty was immense, and quite simply something which will never be repeated,” Mr Heads said.

The other players on the shortlist were Brian Bevan, Duncan Hall, Ken Irvine, Ron Coote and Darren Lockyer.

Mr Heads said they were all stars in their own right and some would no doubt be included in future Immortals discussions.

The NRL also formally inducted six (6) players to the NRL Hall of Fame; Petero Civoniceva, Mark Graham, Cliff Lyons, Steve Menzies, Ricky Stuart and Gorden Tallis.

“These are our first inductees into the Hall of Fame since the Centenary Season in 2008 and all deserve their place in this company,” Mr Greenberg said.

20 COMMENTS

    • So did Glebes best ever forward ‘Dirty Reds” star Frank Burge who was a try scoring machine and held the record for 75years when they played less games in a season back in those days.πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘βœ”

  1. This is the greatest choice ever made for immortalization of our great game and players. These players should of been the first players to be made “Immortals”. I have mentioned all three of these when discussions on this Zero Tackle site were about who should be immortals or not, hence my happiness for these greats of the past to be rightfully recognized.

    The RLW only making immortals post WW2 was a shambles. As for modern day player being picked or considered while playing in the 21st century for immortal status is a joke, when you have legends of the game like these three and 15 or 20 others that should be immortals way before Smith, Thurston, Lockyer, Johns and so on. Mal Meninga deserved to be an Immortal years before Johns. At least this decision tonight puts credibility back into the real Immortals. Lets make current players immortal when it really is their turn. But not within the next twenty years at least while we still have immortals of the past to be picked before them like Proven, Bevan and a stack of others. πŸ’ͺπŸ˜ŽπŸ‘βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”

  2. Has Peter Sterling got a time machine? He looks just like Dave Brown.🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣

    • He was the best player in the world in 2 positions, changed the way a position was played, and was a proven game winner.
      I’d say he deserves the spot as much as any of the others in the nominated players’ list.

      • Lockyer is the best player I have seen play the game. I was born early 80’s so am too young to have a proper view on guys like Sterling, Mortimer, Kenny etc, so based on 90’s to now, Lockyer is the best. Johns was great and he was in everything and could do everything, but I like the way Lockyer played. He had so much time with the ball, the game seemed to go into slow motion when he took control. He had a real knack for picking his moments and knowing what to do at the right time.

        I did lose some respect for him in Origin in 2009 when he was captain and a bomb was put up to Gidley, the smallest member of the NSW team so that Queensland could get some revenge for White knocking Price out, but still, he was a tremendous player who will undoubtedly be an immortal.

        • Yes that Origin dog act will never be forgotten.

          Lockyer, Hodges, Thurston, Smith etc – they were all in on it

        • I always thought Kurt Gidley was a bit overrated as a player, but that night I think he gained a lot of respect from a lot of people. To put his body on the line and take that bomb, fully aware of what was coming his way, was truly courageous.

  3. In no way am I trying to disrespect any of the inductees, they all had very good cases to be inducted in their own right, but I question the naming of 5, or more than 50% of the current immortals. I worry that it waters down the prestige of the award a bit. I get the idea that they were worries about losing the opportunity to name any pre war players, but I just think inducting so many in one go is too much.

    Either way congtratulations to all of them.

    • I get where you’re coming from, but I think the move to induct the 3 players from the post war era was a move by the NRL to fix what was a big problem with the original concept.
      As for the selections that were made, I think they, for once, got it exactly right.
      Coote and Lockyer will more than likely be the next inductions into the Immortals.

      • I don’t disagree, the original concept was flawed in that those pre war guys didn’t even get a look in. I still think 5 at once is too many though. I guess they were on a hiding to nothing in their decision to be honest. If they didn’t induct them there is more criticism for ignoring the past, and if they didn’t induct Meninga and Proven, they would open themselves to even more criticism, as neither could have done more to increase their eligibility. You are right that they have at least got the actual players inducted correct.

  4. I would have gone with Lockyer over Mal, but good to see the older generation get recognition.

    Whens the next round? is this a yearly thing or 4 yearly thing?

  5. Meninga was a great player, but he was a centre so I was surprised to see him get the award before lockyer concidering lockyer was involved a couple of times in just about every offensive set and controlling the game. A centre touches the ball every 3rd set maybe.

    • Screamingeagle you must not watch much footy in the 80s and 90s Meninga was a blockbusting match winner who often changed a game in his teams favour with his magnificent runs that had player sprawled out everywhere trying to tackle him. For the record screamingsea eagle Bob Fulton Played the majority of his footy in the centres although he captained Australia from the Roosters as a 5/8 on the 78 Kangaroo tour. Reg Gasnier was a centre, Dally Messenger was a centre, Dave Brown was a centre, and Big Mal is a centre, In fact of all the immortals their are more centres than any other position and one Half and one 5/8

  6. I can’t disagree with any of them being picked, the pre WW2 blokes all had phenomenal records. It says a lot for Frank Burge that it took Steven Menzies (plus about twice as many games) to break his try scoring record. I’m sorry my personal favourite (I’m biased), Kenny Irvine, didn’t make it but you can’t pick ’em all. I’m not surprised Lockyer didn’t make it – great player but not quite immortal standard IMO. When the time comes for the next round of inductees, I’d put Thurston in the same boat.

    • This is the greatest choice ever made for immortalization of our great game and players. These players should of been the first players to be made β€œImmortals”. I have mentioned all three of these when discussions on this Zero Tackle site were about who should be immortals or not, hence my happiness for these greats of the past to be rightfully recognized.

      The RLW only making immortals post WW2 was a shambles. As for modern day player being picked or considered while playing in the 21st century for immortal status is a joke, when you have legends of the game like these three and 15 or 20 others that should be immortals way before Smith, Thurston, Lockyer, Johns and so on. Mal Meninga deserved to be an Immortal years before Johns as was Provan. At least this decision tonight puts credibility back into the real Immortals. Lets make current players immortal when it really is their turn. But not within the next twenty years at least while we still have immortals of the past to be picked before them like Bevan, Coote, Irvine and a stack of others.

  7. I want to blow my own trumpet here and prove I predicted all the immortals 6 weeks ago on the story… “NRL reveals 10 Immortal Shortlist Candidates” dated 21/6/18

    WoodChook June 21, 2018 at 3:32 pm
    Mal Meninga for certain and a toss up between Proven, Burge, Messenger and Brown. Matter of Fact all those mentioned are worthy immortals and already should have been given that honor. What should be considered is a catch up immortal category with about 10 players before 1945 immortalized.

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