Buzz: V’landys to flip Immortal selection on its head
The NRL is to revisit the rule in which retired champions have to wait five years to be considered for the game's greatest honour - selection as an Immortal.
Coinciding with the expected retirement of Melbourne Storm, Queensland and Kangaroos legend Cameron Smith, the issue was raised by chairman Peter V'landys at a meeting of the independent commission last week.
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The five-year "cooling off" period, there to take emotion away from the judges and their decision-making, has been a debate for a couple of decades.
When Andrew Johns retired in 2007, there were calls for him to be inducted straight away. Eventually Joey was chosen as the eighth Immortal in rugby league's most prestigious club five years later in 2012.
Mal Meninga played until 1994 yet had to wait 24 years until 2018 to be honoured.
The great Norm Provan retired in 1965 but waited 53 years.
Under the leadership of V'landys the NRL is a far more flexible and agile organisation. The game has been modernised.
Decisions that used to take months or years are made in a far more proactive manner, driven by V'landys and a more contemporary senior management team.
It's why Smith may not have to wait until 2025. Even his harshest critics would acknowledge he is a must inclusion.
There is strong support inside the commission to make it happen. There is now a very real chance that the player who many regard as the greatest of all time will be named an Immortal next year.
And Smith possibly won't be the only addition to the 13 champions already there.
BY THE NUMBERS: THE MODERN DAY IMMORTAL CONTENDERS BELOW
There are arguably six candidates to be considered when judges are appointed to determine the next inductee - Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater, Darren Lockyer, Cooper Cronk and Greg Inglis.
It is such a painstaking process.
Your columnist would also like to see the great Ron Coote reconsidered despite the fact he retired in 1978 and has missed out at every meeting of the judging panel since. He was a truly sensational player.
Of the potential new Immortals, it would be hard to imagine Smith, Thurston or Slater missing out. It's probably not a matter of if they will be inducted but when.
Smith is set to retire with a surely never to be repeated 430 NRL games. He played and captained the Storm in eight grand finals, won five of them, but had two premierships taken away.
A nine-time Dally M hooker of the year. Plus the 42 Origins and 56 Tests.
If only he'd tell us of his retirement plan.
And then Thurston ... seriously, who needs five years to work out that he's good enough to be an Immortal? Some suggest he was an even better halfback than Johns.
Four-time Dally M player of the year. A Churchill Medallist and three-time Golden Boot winner. Two grand final victories. It is so bleeding obvious he has to be there.
You get to Slater, the most gifted and explosive attacking fullback. Rated by commentary legend Ray Warren as the best fullback he's ever seen … and Rabs saw 1999 inductee Graeme "Changa" Langlands.
We also chatted to the great Ian Heads over the weekend. He speaks of Slater in the same league as Clive Churchill.
Lockyer, retired for nine years. Four grand finals, four premierships from 355 games. A much-esteemed Australian and Queensland captain and Churchill Medal winner.
Even Cronk, who played 372 games over 15 years. Nine grand finals, six victories and one with a broken shoulder. Twice Dally M player of the year. Five-time Dally M halfback of the year in the same era as Thurston.
Finally Inglis. Five grand finals and three victories, the most memorable with the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2014. He too must be considered.
THE 13 CURRENT IMMORTALS: Clive Churchill 1981, Bob Fulton 1981, Reg Gasnier 1981, Johnny Raper 1981, Graeme Langlands 1999, Wally Lewis 1999, Arthur Beetson 2003, Andrew Johns 2012, Dave Brown 2018, Dally Messenger 2018, Mal Meninga 2018, Frank Burge 2018, Norm Provan 2018
Originally published as Buzz: V'landys to flip Immortal selection on its head