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globalrugbyleague - Wed, 18 Apr 2007 22:40:00 GMT
The retirement of Andrew Johns has prompted the same predicable writers to jump up and down while demanding ‘Joey’ be inducted as the next Rugby League Immortal.

That was the final conclusion of almost every Rugby League journalist up and down the East coast of Australia in summing up one of the finest careers to grace our sport.

Unfortunately, no one jumped into the media scrum and ran against the wind of opinion and the repetitive copy being pumped into our papers and thrown on our lawns the next morning.

Therefore I’ve decided to forward my apology first before turning some of you other media scribes red-faced with what I’m about to offload.

I would like to sincerely apologise to all for not saying what I’m about to say sooner rather then later.

Andrew Johns will have to wait his turn while a few other great players gain entry before he becomes a Rugby League Immortal.

This is a sensible and fair for all the other players that have gone before Johns.

I am not saying Joey should NEVER become an immortal but rather I am subscribing to the view that it should happen at ‘an appropriate time’ as the PM suggested last week.

Some people however would like re-write the rules right now and make Andrew Johns an immortal next week. If that were to happen, the Traitor wouldn’t be the first to complain though.

I’d be happy to see Andrew Johns become a Rugby League Immortal any time. The man deserves it for the sheer skill and countless accolades that have summed up his career.

But we must also ensure that other characters of our game do not get forgotten either. Here are ten players that I believe should become Immortals in 2007.

1.Greg Smith

Although he only ever played one first grade game in the NRL with Newcastle, the name Greg Smith will forever be etched in the history books, even if it’s for all the wrong reasons.

Arriving from America in 1999, the supposed former Philadelphia Eagles NFL player received an invitation from coach Warren Ryan to make his debut on the wing for the Knights in their round 3 clash against Canterbury where his short supply of skills in the 13-man code were brutally exposed.

For a man who claimed he’d played two seasons in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1995 and 1996, played 34 NFL games and scored 6 touchdowns, his NRL debut attracted plenty of attention.

However after Sunday Telegraph reporter Barry Toohey did some research of his own, Smith’s performance during the Knights 28-26 loss to Canterbury made a lot of sense.

Two of Philadelphia’s major newspapers said they’d never heard of Greg Smith. Smith was let go mid-season and has yet to re-appear since.

For a man once touted as the first former NFL star to play top-level Rugby League since Manfred Moore, Smith achieved more then what he perhaps should have. And that alone makes him a Rugby League Immortal in the making.

2. Phil Sigsworth

Sometimes you’re better of being a one-club man in Rugby League. Unfortunately, this is a title that cannot be attributed to one of the game’s finest veterans, Phil Sigsworth.

His in-goal bungle with Phillip Duke that resulted in a winning try to Wally Lewis in the second State of Origin match in 1982 is a favourite memory amongst many Queenslanders,.

But it’s his winless record against Parramatta in 3 Grand Finals while playing for 3 different clubs (Newtown – 81, Manly – 82 and Canterbury – 86) that has left diehard League fans in absolute awe.

It does make you wonder what would’ve happened if he had played for the Eels. It’s dubious if his record against one club in Grand Finals will ever be broken.

3. Daryl Brohman

Before he was endulging in sporting impersonations on weekend radio, "The Big Mahhnn" played 97 first grade games, winning two first grade premierships during his time at Canterbury.

Although he is best remembered for having his jaw broken by Les Boyd in his Origin debut, fans of Daryl mostly treasure the way he finished his career….in the Panther’s premiership winning reserve grade side of 1987.

Surely discussing a rash in his private areas on talkback radio for over two months of 2006 cannot disqualify this national treasure from becoming a Rugby League Immortal.

4.Mark Horo

Following on from a distinguished career where he played 129 first grade games for Parramatta, Wests and Auckland as well as representing New Zealand in 16 Tests and 2 World Cups.

Horo remains a force in Rugby League as the coach of Erina in the Jim Beam Cup.

5. Peter Peters

What the hell was Parramatta thinking in letting this bloke leave the club at the end of the 60’s?

Another of the great players to leave the Eels, Peter Peters while he is known mostly for his on-air stoushes with Greg Hartley on ‘Zorba and Hollywood’, was a talented-goal kicker.

Many believe that if he was an upcoming star of today, he would be kicking the field-goals that Michael Monaghan has successfully slotted over the past few weeks.

He has continued to draw people to the game via his media career and that on top of a distinguished career should earn Peter Peters a place next to Andrew Johns as a Rugby League Immortal.

6. Perry Haddock

This former Erina halfback contributed to the St George side that lost the 1985 Grand Final against Canterbury.

At 1.6 m tall, he also managed to play 138 games for Cronulla, St George and Illawarra without letting his pint-size get the better of him against big nasty beasts constantly looking for ways to bury smaller guys into the turf.

7. Wayne Collins

This individual played some outstanding football in reserve grade following the Dragons back to back Grand Final losses in 1992-93.

His time in the lower grades rejuvenated him and his persistence eventually paid off when he was signed by the South Queensland Crushers.

8. John Hopoate

John Hopoate brought Rugby League international publicity from media networks not renowned for their coverage of the greatest game of all after he was involved in a series of distinctive niggling on-field incidents.

Yet he proved that second chances are possible for players who make mistakes and remained a force in the game right up until he pursued a boxing career in 2006. It’s easy to forget he was the Man of the Match’ in the 1997 Grand Final.

It takes a special player to win that award when they are on the losing team. His is a career that will never be forgotten. A pure joy to watch for many in the press box.

9. Brian Smith

No other club mentor in the history of the game has coached more then 400 first grade competitions and not won a first grade title.

Surely there is a place in the Rugby League Immortals for a coach who has re-written the records like no other.

Face it, if this were any other individual they would have walked the plank by now and faded off into the sunset to sit by the pool and listen to all the action courtesy of the Continous Call Team.

But not this fella. Brian is an exemplary individual, a toiler and a man who will stand out forever in the ranks of NRL coaching. He has survived more calls for his sacking by ungrateful club fans and deserves more respect.

Not only should this man be made an immortal, perhaps he should also have a gold statue erected at every NRL club he’s worked for.

10. Glenn Lazarus

There won’t be many people who will disagree with the inclusion of one of the greatest props ever to play the game.

Yet it wasn’t just the five premierships he won Canberra (2), Brisbane (2) and Melbourne (1) that earned him a place in the Traitor’s list of the top ten players who should become Rugby League Immortals in 2007.

No, that wasn't the only quality that helped the cartwheeling former Storm captain earn a place in this list.

It was also the suggestion he made in his Herald-Sun column in 1999 advocating that the AFL’s racial vilification problem ‘could be at least partially alleviated by allowing players to punch each other.’

Enough said.

PS: The GRL Traitor would like to announce that he is officially retiring from watching the NRL Footy Show. Should Channel 7 need any ideas for a rival program, feel free to contact me via the contact form at the bottom of this article. - Read More, Here