Almanac Rugby League – Five new Immortals inducted

The NRL caught everyone off guard last night when it inducted five new Immortals of the game when only two had been expected. Using its new eligibility rules, the NRL opted to elevate all three pre-World War II nominees plus two from ‘the modern era’. Yesterday I opined that Dally Messenger, Norm Provan and Mal Meninga were my tips. Well, I got that right but not in the way I might have expected.


Let’s back-track a bit. The Immortals concept was instigated by the now defunct Rugby League News magazine with a sole focus on players from the post-World War II era. When the NRL took over the award, it broadened the concept to make players from all eras eligible, hence this year’s list of nominees included three players from the formative era. Clearly in an effort to recognise the greats of the early years, the decision was made to induct all three nominees from that era and so pay homage to the very roots of the code. Well done, say I.


I wrote about Dally Messenger yesterday, so suffice to say today that without Messenger the code would not have established itself in the pre-World War I era. Frank ‘Chunky’ Burge played first grade at age 16 and represented Australia by the time he was 20. In a career of 242 first-class matches between 1911 and 1926, he scored a phenomenal 256 tries and kicked 113 goals. Burge represented NSW from 1912 to 1926 and Australia from 1914 to 1922. He adhered to strict diet and fitness regimes decades before such things became de jour. Dave Brown’s career stretched from 1930 to 1941, mostly with Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. A points scoring forward machine, he amassed 1600 points in his first class career and was known as ‘the Bradman of league’ – says it all, doesn’t it?


Norm Provan and Mal Meninga rounded out last night’s inductees. I wrote about them yesterday also. And who could say a word against the inclusion of either? You might feel for the five who missed out but they remain eligible further down the track. I’ll stick my neck out now and suggest that next time around, the leading contenders will be Ken Irvine, Ron Coote and Darren Lockyer, not necessarily in that order, with Alan ‘Alfie’ Langer as the smokie.


The next hurdle for the League in relation to the Immortals concept will be how to incorporate the great coaches of the game into the selection mix. I expect an answer in four years time when the next induction comes along.





About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at

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