SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: NRL Chief Executive Todd Greenberg speaks during the Rugby League Hall of Fame and Immortals Announcement at Sydney Cricket Ground on March 19, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Should the NRL scrap the Immortals concept?

Recently the NRL announced the new format and criteria for the next and future Immortals with two new Immortals to be announced in the near future. They also have announced more focus will be put on the Hall of Fame with six new inductees to be announced in 2018.

With the Immortals topic one again being relevant, it is time to revisit the question which has been debated in recent years. Should the NRL scrap the Immortals concept? Before answering that question we need to know how the Immortals concept came about.

The Immortals were created by former rugby league magazine Rugby League Week in 1981. However, the NRL now own the rights to the Immortals concept and this is why it has lived on for longer than its creator.

The original Immortals named in 1981 consisted of former Australian test captains Clive Churchill, Reg Gasnier, Johnny Raper and Bob Fulton. Over the years the Immortals list has grown far beyond a tribute to great players by a magazine but a status most rugby league players now dream of having due to an Immortal being seen by many as one of the greatest players of all time.

Sounds pretty good right? So why would there be people against the Immortals concept?

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There are multiple reasons, including the fact that the NRL did not come up with the concept themselves. As was stated before, the Immortals concept was created by Rugby League Week and not the NRL (NSWRL at the time) itself.

This leads many people to believe that either every selection is tainted due to the concept’s origin being a magazine as opposed to the NRL itself and that in a sense, the NRL has “taken” the Immortals concept from Rugby League Week.

There was also much controversy over the selection of Andrew Johns in 2012, with many people seeing that as the day the Immortals lost its “legitimacy”. Johns has openly admitted to using illegal substances throughout his career, leading many to believe he was undeserving of a spot in the immortals. This put the Immortals concept in a bad light as it had become associated with what many deem a “drug cheat”.

There are also many who believe there should not be a concept to recognise certain players at all. The argument for this is that different people have different perceptions as to who they believe the best players of all time are and that the NRL should not try to dictate who the best is. Fans should be free to have their own opinions as to who the greatest players are.

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So, what do I think?

To answer the question specifically, do I think the NRL should scrap the Immortals concept? Yes. It obviously won’t though, due to the new criteria and format being announced recently.

I believe that although the fans do have their own opinions, the majority can agree whether a certain player was a level above most others and it is those that should be recognised by the NRL for their efforts.

These players should all be included, together, in the Hall of Fame. That honour alone should be lofty enough for players to aspire to achieve.

The NRL (in my opinion) should hold a Hall of Fame induction ceremony annually, as the Immortals are already Hall of Famers. The ceremony should take place either the night before or in the week of the Grand Final where four to six players are inducted.

In the end, this is only my opinion so I implore you all to leave your opinions on the Immortals concept in the comments below.

9 COMMENTS

  1. The media had a field day correlating Andrew Johns recreational drug use as somehow him being a “drug cheat”. I don’t think many fans give a toss, to be honest. I know I’ve been quite critical of the media, lately on this site – but I again feel as if much of the sentiment we discuss on here is more dictated to us than us actually thinking it.

    The biggest issue with the immortal concept is that it is so slow, so deliberate that effectively, it just cannot gain a foothold as being something that a league fan thinks about that much. Why would I? We take what.. 10 years to decide Darren Lockyer was an immortal? It’s just a concept that is deliberately slowed down to give each moment value. Honestly, who really cares about an award that was last given out 6 years ago?

  2. Why would the NRL get this right?Just seems what might look so easy to a fan on the outside is always somehow such a slow process from the NRL an most likely there decision will make little difference or stuff it anyway.My own opinion is forget about it.We have awards and the whole immortal concept is just messy when you consider circumstances surrounding them.If we must have it start it from when the NRL started as the whole process seems to grey an mirky

  3. I think a hall of fame concept is better, or even a ‘star of Hollywood walk’ concept – maybe out the front of the SCG, Suncorp or club grounds. Immortals was a great concept at the time, and it was perfect timing by RLW – but I think it has lost it’s relevance since the NRL took it on – too worried about being politically correct and not upsetting anyone. There are so many exceptional players, why not recognize them all?

    • Just have the walk with the Daily M each year,that way they can go back to the start of the NRL.I just find the whole idea of Immortals to complicated and to many grey areas.

      • I mean Dave Brown still hold the record of scoring 45 points in a single game when tries were worth only three points and 38 tries in a season which was only half the amount of games in a season as it is today He is known as the Don Bradman of Rugby League with all his point scoring feats. Players like Dave Brown who are in the Hall of Fame which is honorable but he should be an Immortal

  4. I like the concept of a Hall of Fame for great players and with a higher level for the really exceptional players – Immortals. They need to tidy up the 4-6 players that were overlooked with maybe a one off mass induction of these players and reduce the retirement wait tine to 3 years for Immortals, with 12 months after retirement for Hall of Fame.

  5. I believe they should start with the legends of our game from 1908 working their way through towards present day which would take decades to get to. Why isn’t Dally Messenger an immortal but Queenslanders want Lockyer to be an immortal. Its ridiculous that players of ten years ago get the jump on our historical genius legendary players.

  6. Agree Woody. Start at the beginning at work our way through. People forget about how different the rules were in various stages in the past – unlimited tackles, 5 metre rule for both attach & defence, no interchange, actual scrums, etc. Imagine how many tries Dave Brown, Ken Irvine, Larry Corowa, Bill Mullins, Eric Grothe, etc – could have scored if touching the corner post was OK back then!

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