Athletes strive to be the best version of themselves with constant training and other regimen. It’s a lot of hardwork but it gets paid off when the league gives them player awards. Some have a certain season performance highlighted while others are given the chance to be in the Hall of Fame.
However, there’s a highest honour that any NRL player can get. Their impact in the league and the sport get to be eternalized when they become one of The Immortals of rugby league. So far, there are 13 NRL players who were awarded the title. Get to know more about them below.
Clive Churchill, Bob Fulton, Reg Gasnier, and Johnny Raper
In the establishment of this prestigious title, a group of four Test captains were named as the original Immortals. Despite the concept of the honour being conceived by Rugby League Week (RLW) which held no affiliation with the league, the release was met with great reception.
Fans and critics alike were quick to agree that Clive Churchill, Bob Fulton, Reg Gasnier, and Johnny Raper were deserving of the honour. The group was given public respect and admiration because of their impacts in the game as well as beyond the field.
Graeme Langlands and Wally Lewis
After 18 years, RL intended to name the fifth member of The Immortals. However, the panel of experts had a hard time coming up with a sole player so the decision was moved to award two players with the title. They are Graeme Langlands and Wally Lewis.
Langlands was a fullback who built one of the greatest careers that NRL has ever seen. In his entire career, he played in 425 first class games where he made 170 tries and a whopping total of 2,694 points. He also accumulated other awards such as NSWRL Player of the Year and the fifth place in the Rugby League Week’s Top 100 Players.
Meanwhile, Lewis started his career playing as lock forward and later on became a five-eighth and a captain between 1981 and 1991. He had a breathtaking kicking game and a superior pass. Perhaps his most memorable game was game two of the 1984 Origin series where he helped seal the series to his team.
It was in 2003 when the list of The Immortals lengthened once again. Arthur Beetson is the seventh Immortal of rugby league who had his humble beginnings in the sports in his teenage years. From then on, he established himself as one, if not the number one, of the finest ball-playing front-rowers of the sport.
He famously earned the nickname ‘Half-a-game Artie’ after his sensational appearance in the Ashes-deciding third Test of Australia against Great Britain. Despite struggling with a shoulder injury, Beetson made tries for wingers Johnny King and Ken Irvine that aided the team to secure the Ashes to Australia.
At the Men of League Gala Dinner in 2012, another Immortal was named and it was halfback Andrew Johns. It was a dream come true for fans and experts who pushed for the immediate honour of being an Immortal when he retired in 2007 due to a bulging disc in his neck.
Johns has also become a benchmark for the passing and kicking games of other halfbacks. His brilliance was immediately spotted in his debut for Newcastle where he racked up 23 points against Souths and got the man-of-the match honours afterwards.
Mal Meninga, Norm Provan, Frank Burge, Dave Brown, and Dally Messenger
Upon the closure of Rugby League Weekly in 2017, the Australian Rugby League Commission took over the concept and in 2018, named five players to bring the tally to thirteen Immortals. They were Mal Meninga, Norm Provan, Frank Burge, Dave Brown, and Dally Messenger.
Burge, Brown, and Messenger were the first pre-World War II champions who were considered and given the honours since the title was formerly restricted to post-World War II players.