Ninth Immortal to be named in 2018

NRL chief executive officer Todd Greenberg has confirmed that a ninth Immortal will be chosen in 2018.

The Immortal announcement will be the first since the National Rugby League bought the intellectual property for the concept.

Speaking at The Courier-Mail newspaper's NRL season launch, Greenberg said that a ninth Immortal would be named, the first since 2012 when Newcastle Knights halfback Andrew Johns was named as the eighth.

"We made a conscious decision last year to purchase the IP rights [from Rugby League Week magazine] for the Immortals," Greenberg said.

"The Commission felt for a long time that it wasn't under our banner and it should be, it now is. We will have a very diligent process around our Hall of Fame and ultimately on the election of an Immortal and you can stand by for some big announcements on that in the coming month.

"But rest assured, there will be an election of an Immortal in 2018 and there will be a much greater diligent process about how that is unfolding. And a much more transparent process primarily for fans so they have an understanding of how we're going to do this, but it's a very big decision for the game."

Cowboys coach Paul Green was on hand for the launch and welcomed Greenberg's announcement.

''It is good they are putting some criteria around it,'' Green told NRL.com.

Norm Provan and Arthur Summons.
Norm Provan and Arthur Summons.

''It is really hard to compare generations and guys that haven’t played each other but the two modern-day guys that stand out to me are Mal Meninga and Darren Lockyer.''

When Brisbane Broncos Wayne Bennett was asked on stage by journalist Peter Badel who he thought should be the next Immortal, he said Dragons legend Norm Provan who won 10 premierships and has the NRL trophy named after him. Bennett said he didn’t know what more Provan would have to do.

Green agreed and said the great Ron Coote should also be in the mix.

“Ron has an unbelievable record and played in nine grand finals,” Green said.

Coote won six of those deciders, four with the Rabbitohs and two with the Roosters.

Gorden Tallis said "you could have 100 people in a room and we'd all pick someone different" when it came to the next Immortal.

"Wayne Bennett said 'Norm Provan' and I'd have no arguments with Norm Provan," Tallis said.

"We play for his trophy and he is such a gentleman, and to win 10 grand finals. That is pretty special. If someone did it today they would all be Immortals.

"Then there's the current crop and there's Darren Lockyer. I still think Allan Langer is a very under-rated player and I don't know why he doesn't get mentioned.

Darren Lockyer.
Darren Lockyer. ©NRL Photos

"For me, there has probably been no better player in a Broncos jersey than Allan Langer. That's my opinion, but everybody else will have a different player."

Tallis mused that Langer, like former Raiders star Bradley Clyde, was "out of sight and out of mind".

"The great Bradley Clyde...who I think was probably the greatest forward to play our game, but because he is not sitting on a footy show you forget how good those players were," he said.

While opinions will differ, Greenberg made it clear that the NRL had "put a very thorough process in place, working with a range of historians and rugby league people to put together a very transparent process, firstly on a Hall of Fame concept that will then ultimately lead into the selection of an Immortal".

"That's not only in an immediate sense, but how it will look for the future," he said.

"We will unveil that probably over the next month or so and give people insight into how that process will work."

Greenberg said the Immortal induction would be "a very specific and special announcement".

"You won't be seeing lots of Immortals. You will see a single Immortal in 2018," he said.

The Immortals are the eight Australians announced as the best to have played rugby league.

The eight Immortals to date have been inducted at different times going back to 1981 when the first four members were named.

They are:

Clive Churchill (1981)
Bob Fulton (1981)
Reg Gasnier (1981)
Johnny Raper (1981)
Graeme Langlands (1999)
Wally Lewis (1999)
Arthur Beetson (2003)
Andrew Johns (2012)