The Immortals of rugby league in Australia are players named as the nation's greatest ever. From 1981 to 2017 The Immortals were named by the Australian sports magazine Rugby League Week . From 2018, the National Rugby League took over The Immortals concept.
Established in 1981, the original group consisted of former Test captains Clive Churchill, Bob Fulton, Reg Gasnier, and Johnny Raper. Although Rugby League Week (RLW) did not hold any official affiliation with any of the governing bodies of rugby league in Australia, the release was met with much public respect and admiration for the players listed. To coincide with this announcement, Hunter Valley vineyard Elliots Wines released, in conjunction with Rugby League Week, four bottles of 1977 vintage port as a boxed set. Each player was represented on the label of each of the bottles. Returning eighteen years later, Rugby League Week announced in 1999 its intention to select a fifth member of The Immortals. However, the panel of experts chosen to pick the next Immortal was unable to decide on a sole player; it was then announced that the next additions to The Immortals would be Graeme Langlands and Wally Lewis. 2003 saw the addition of Arthur Beetson as the seventh Immortal.
Andrew Johns was inducted as the eighth Immortal at the Men of League Gala Dinner the week of the 2012 NRL Grand Final. The judges who deliberated over candidates were: Wayne Bennett (seven-time premiership winning coach, former Queensland Origin coach), Ray Warren (Channel Nine network television senior commentator), John Grant (Chairman ARL Commission), David Middleton (leading rugby league historian), Ray Hadley (radio and Channel Nine network television commentator), Phil Rothfield (News Limited), Roy Masters (journalist, Fairfax Media), Geoff Prenter (RLW Founding Editor 1970-81), Ian Heads (RLW Editor 1981-87), Norman Tasker (RLW Editor 1988-2000), Tony Durkin (RLW Editor 2001-02), Martin Lenehan (RLW Editor 2003-11) and Mitchell Dale (RLW Editor).The current living Immortals (Fulton, Raper, Langlands, Lewis and Johns) were also granted a vote.
Although the tag of Immortal continues to be a highly respected one for any player to obtain, it was initially criticised for only being awarded to post-war players. However, it was agreed by the first judges in 1981 (Frank Hyde, Harry Bath and Tom Goodman), that they could only judge on players they had seen in action. Furthermore, to overcome entrenched criticism over Johns' admitted use of recreational drugs during his playing career, the rules were altered so the candidates can only be judged on their playing ability alone, and nothing else.
With the closure of Rugby League Week in 2017, the concept was taken over by the Australian Rugby League Commission.
On 1 August 2018, a further five players were announced as Immortals, bringing the tally to thirteen. They were Mal Meninga, Norm Provan, Frank Burge, Dave Brown and Dally Messenger. It was the first time that the latter three pre-World War II champions could be considered for this recognition, as it had previously been an award restricted to post-World War II players.
/ BRL Premiership
The National Rugby League (NRL) is Australia's top-level domestic men's rugby league club competition. It contains clubs from the original Sydney club Rugby League competition, which had been running continuously since 1908. The NRL formed in the aftermath of the 1990s' Super League war as a joint partnership between the Australian governing body, the Australian Rugby League (ARL) and media giant News Corporation-controlled Super League, after both organisations ran premierships parallel to each other in 1997. This partnership was dissolved in February 2012, with control of the NRL going to the independently formed Australian Rugby League Commission.
The sixth Rugby League World Cup was held in France in October and November 1972. Australia started as the favourites to retain the trophy they had won just two years previously. New Zealand had beaten all three of the other nations in 1971 and France were expected to be tough opponents on their home soil. In the event Great Britain confounded most expectations by running out worthy winners and levelling their tally of World Cup wins at 3–3 with the Australians.
The Australian national rugby league team, the Kangaroos, have represented Australia in senior men's rugby league football competition since the establishment of the 'Northern Union game' in Australia in 1908. Administered by the Australian Rugby League Commission, the Kangaroos are ranked second in the RLIF World Rankings. The team is the most successful in Rugby League World Cup history, having contested all 15 and won 11 of them, failing to reach the final only once, in the inaugural tournament in 1954. Only five nations have beaten Australia in test matches, and Australia have an overall win percentage of 67%.
Walter James Lewis AM is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, and coached in the 1980s and 1990s. He became a commentator for television coverage of the sport. A highly decorated Australian national captain, Lewis is widely regarded as one of the greatest ever players of rugby league. His time as a player and coach was followed by a career as a sports presenter for the Nine Network.
Andrew Gary "Joey" Johns is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1990s and 2000s. He captained the Newcastle Knights in the National Rugby League and participated in the team's only two premiership victories in 1997 and 2001, playing a club record 249 games for the Knights. Johns also represented his country at two World Cups, and on one Kangaroo tour, playing in total 21 Test matches for the national side. He played in 23 State of Origin series matches for the New South Wales Blues, and played for the Country Origin side in 1995 and 2003.
Arthur Henry "Artie" Beetson OAM was an Australian rugby league footballer and coach. He represented Australia and Queensland from 1964 to 1981. His main position was at prop. Beetson became the first Indigenous Australian to captain Australia in any sport and is frequently cited as the best post-war forward in Australian rugby league history. He also had an extensive coaching career, spanning the 1970s to the 1990s, coaching Australia, Queensland, Eastern Suburbs, Redcliffe Dolphins and the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.
John 'Chook' Raper, MBE is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer and coach. He was a lock-forward for the Australia national team. He had a record 33 test caps between 1959 and 1968 and played in 6 World Cup games between 1960 and 1968. Raper captained Australia on 8 occasions in 1967–68 and played in eight consecutive NSWRFL grand final victories for the St. George Dragons club. He has since been named as one of the nation's finest footballers of the 20th century.
Paul "Fatty" Vautin is an Australian football commentator and formerly a professional rugby league footballer, captain and coach. He has provided commentary for the Nine Network's coverage of rugby league since joining the network in 1992 and has also hosted The Footy Show since its beginnings in 1994 opposite co-host Peter Sterling, until 2017. An Australian Kangaroos test and Queensland State of Origin representative lock or second-row forward, Vautin played club football in Brisbane with Wests, before moving to Sydney in 1979 to play with Manly-Warringah, whom he would captain to the 1987 NSWRL premiership. He also played for Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, and in England for St Helens.
Gregory Stuart "Greg" Pierce was an Australian rugby league player, coach and administrator. He played as a lock for the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in the National Rugby League competition and for Australia. He captained his country on one occasion.
Reginald William "Reg" Gasnier AM was an Australian rugby league footballer and coach. He played centre for the St. George Dragons from 1959 to 1967 and represented Australia in a then record 36 Tests and three World Cup games. He was the captain of the national side on eight occasions between 1962–1967.
Robert Fulton AM is a former professional rugby league footballer, coach and commentator. Fulton played, coached, selected for and has commentated on the game with great success at the highest levels and has been named amongst Australia's greatest rugby league players of the 20th century. As a player Fulton won three premierships with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in the 1970s, the last as captain. He represented for the Australian national side on thirty-five occasions, seven times as captain. He had a long coaching career at the first grade level, taking Manly to premiership victory in 1987 and 1996. He coached the Australian national team to thirty-nine Tests and World Cup games. He was a New South Wales State selector and a national selector. He is currently a radio commentator with 2GB. In 1985 he was selected as one of the initial four post-war "Immortals" of the Australian game and in 2008 he was named in Australia's team of the century.
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John "Bomber" Peard is an Australian former rugby league footballer and later coach. An Australian international and New South Wales representative Five-eighth, he played for the Eastern Suburbs, St George and Parramatta NSWRFL clubs in the 1960s and 1970s. Peard's nickname, 'Bomber', came from his revolutionary towering punt kick, popularly referred to as a bomb, which terrorised opposition players, especially the Fullbacks and Wingers they were aimed at. It has now became a common feature of the modern game.
Graeme Frank Langlands, MBE,, also known by the nickname of "Changa", was an Australian professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. and coached in the 1970s.
John Patrick Ballesty in Strathfield, New South Wales is an Australian former national representative rugby union player who also played first-grade rugby league with the Eastern Suburbs club.
The 1975 New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership was the 68th season of Sydney's professional rugby league football competition, Australia's first. Twelve teams, including six of 1908's foundation clubs and another six from across Sydney competed for the J. J. Giltinan Shield during the season, which culminated in a grand final match for the WD & HO Wills Cup between the Eastern Suburbs and St. George clubs. NSWRFL teams also competed for the 1975 Amco Cup.
Frank Stanton, also known by the nickname of "Biscuits", is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1960s, a successful club, and national representative coach in the 1970s and 1980s. His playing and club coaching career was with the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles. He enjoyed success as coach of the Australian national side from 1978 to 1984, being at the helm in the period when the Kangaroos began to consistently dominate the other rugby league playing nations.
In late 2007, the Australian Rugby League and National Rugby League commissioned 130 experts to select the 100 best rugby league players in the game's 100-year history in Australia. From this list, a limited panel of experts picked a "Team of the Century" - a team of 17 players considered to be the best Australian players of all time. This team was announced in Sydney on 17 April 2008, see Australian Rugby League's Team of the Century.
The 1973 Kangaroo Tour was the thirteenth Kangaroo Tour, and saw the Australian national rugby league team travel to Europe and play nineteen matches against British and French club and representative rugby league teams, in addition to three Test matches against Great Britain and two Tests against the French. It followed the tour of 1967-68 and the next was staged in 1978.
The 2008 ANZAC test, also known as the Centenary Test as it commemorated the 100th anniversary of the first test match between the two countries, was a rugby league test match played between Australia and New Zealand at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 9 May 2008. Commemorating the first trans-Tasman Test match, which was also played at Sydney on the same day in 1908, it was the 9th Anzac test played between the two nations since the first was played under the Super League banner in 1997. This was the first test played at the SCG since Australia had defeated New Zealand 29-12 in 1986 and the first ever rugby league test played under lights at the ground.