Lockyer on hold as game pays its dues
THE judges of the Immortals inductions picked the right man in Darren Lockyer to effectively tell to get back in the queue.
The mild-mannered Lockyer, the 355-game former Bronco, would be the last man of note in rugby league to kick up any fuss over his own omission from the intake of new Immortals of rugby league.
Lockyer even said earlier this year that he wanted Mal Meninga to become an Immortal.
Selectors of teams don't have to explain their selections in rugby league, so the eight men who chose the new additions announced need not do so.
I'd be interested to find out, though, on what basis the panel thought Meninga was a better player than Lockyer.
Maybe they thought he really was a better player, comparing their strengths and avenues to influence games.
Maybe it was a "pay your dues'' moment, a consideration that Meninga and Norm Provan had to wait and that Lockyer's chance for inclusion would come in future years.
Meninga's unequalled record for making four old-style Kangaroo tours, including an unprecedented two as captain, would have carried weight with the judges who revere the game's history.
Lockyer, on the other hand, finished with a record 59 Test appearances, which will stay intact for a good few years more because Cameron Smith retired with 56 Tests.
The NRL announced in March it would add up to two players in Immortals voting every four years. They didn't say anything about five inductees this year.
In 2022, unless the NRL changes its own regulations, Johnathan Thurston and Smith would not yet have been retired the five years needed before a player can be considered for induction.
Let's hope there's some continuity in regulations with the Immortals. The concept could do with it.
Players can have a maximum of three appearances on the voting shortlist before they are ruled out as candidates.
So 2022 may be the time Lockyer gets to the front of the queue.