NRL football rugby league rugby league
NRL football rugby league rugby league

Who is worthy of the NRL Hall of Fame?

IT is impossible to get agreement on the next six Rugby League Hall of Famers.

It is inevitable given the quality of players named and the quality of players who have already missed out.

The job now is to get the right six, but how do you do that in a game like rugby league?

The last time there was universal agreement, they signed the document and rugby league has been at war ever since.

It is impossible to find an opinion in the game without finding someone to dispute it.

The pressure is on the judges, though. More than there ever will be.

There is a hidden snag in the system, at least for the short term, that will inevitably end in disappointment.

Six players will be inducted from the 25 short-listed on Saturday. It is already obvious how tough a job that will be by the lack of agreement among experts.

On Sunday I watched Gorden Tallis, a nominee himself, tick off his six players and the most anyone around him could agree on from his choices was four.

Will Tallis enter the Hall on his first attempt?
Will Tallis enter the Hall on his first attempt?

Different people see different things in players. Admire different things.

So when six are named in July that leaves 19 unlucky men who will miss out.

Never mind, next year a shortlist of 25 will again be announced. It is reasonable to assume the 19 who miss this year will be among them. They should be, they are some of the game's greats.

From the new list of 25, between two and four players will be inducted.

That brings to 10 the number of players, from the current 25, now in the Hall.

And that's not considering the new players who will be brought into the top 25, among them the likes of Nathan Hindmarsh (330 games, 25 Tests, a World Cup, 17 Origins), Michael Hancock (274 games, 120 tries, two Kangaroo Tours, 14 Tests, 14 Origins) and Gavin Miller (215 games, two Tests, five Origins, two-time Dally M Player of the Year awards, Rothmans Medallist).

Benny Elias (234 games, six Tests, 19 Origins) changed the way hookers played the game and has to come into consideration.

Menzies’ try-scoring record will have him in contention.
Menzies’ try-scoring record will have him in contention.

The following year, another 25 will be short-listed, from which two to four players will be inducted. Voting will continue this way from here on.

So from the 25 announced on Saturday, as many 14 will be in the Hall of Fame in three years' time.

The problem is this year's induction is in many ways a one-off. It is catch-up for a game which has not done a proper job until now.

Others Halls of Fame around the world are well ahead.

The AFL Hall of Fame began in 1996 with 136 original inductees. It covered the first 137 years of the sport from around Australia and has since grown to 251 members.

America's NFL Hall of Fame has 281 players. Its hall opened in 1963 and has taken in players from when the league began in 1920.

Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame has 226 former players and another 35 Negro League players and executives. The league began in 1903.

Could Wiki become New Zealand’s first Hall of Famer?
Could Wiki become New Zealand’s first Hall of Famer?

Our game is playing catch-up, which is nobody's fault.

The Rugby League Hall of Fame has 100 members. Few of us have heard of it and even fewer could locate it because, for too long, rugby league has done a poor job of celebrating its own.

This current administration is fixing that. Well done.

The 100 were named in rugby league's centenary in 2008 and include the eight Immortals, the Team of the Century and former ARL Hall of Fame members.

All entries were automatic.

The current 25 are up against 111 years of history. And, and here's the problem, when the 14th player is inducted in 2020, the other 11 nominated - deemed to be the next best from those 111 seasons - will forever be ineligible.

The three-strikes policy is a solid rule. Once a player has had three failed attempts he can no longer be nominated, which will stop the conversation returning to the same players every year with the same arguments made and the same arguments ignored.

Provan is a contender to join the Immortals.
Provan is a contender to join the Immortals.

The obvious example is the argument for Norm Provan and the Immortals.

Changa Langlands loved Provan. He held a wide-eyed view of him, like a second father, that began when he walked in to St George as a young man when Provan was the captain and leader.

Every time the Immortals came up Langlands complained that Provan should be among them. Johnny Raper felt the same.

The conversation has gained traction yet Provan missed inclusion with the original Immortals in 1981, when Raper, Reg Gasnier, Clive Churchill and Bob Fulton were named.

He missed out again when Langlands and Wally Lewis were added in 1999. Then again when Arthur Beetson was named in 2003.

And, finally, when Andrew Johns was named in 2012.

Good luck to the judges.

They know better than anyone the pressure to get it right.

The 100 names automatically inducted into the Hall of Fame did not take the odds to history, like this 25 will.



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