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?
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.
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.