Mal Meninga was one of five new Immortals announced on Wednesday night.
Mal Meninga was one of five new Immortals announced on Wednesday night.

Immortal sin: ‘Don’t want to see it’

MORE mass inductions into the NRL's Immortals concept may not be out of the question, with  selection panel chairman Ian Heads saying it could be considered again in four years' time.

But not everyone is keen on the idea.

The NRL broke from tradition on Wednesday night when pre-World War II players Dally Messenger, Dave Brown and Frank Burge were all inducted alongside Mal Meninga and Norm Provan.

It marked the first time players from the founding years of the competition had been eligible, after the NRL assumed control of the group from the now-defunct Rugby League Week Magazine.

It was also the most players ever inducted at the same time, after four were named in 1981, two in 1999 and then one in 2003 and 2012. And while it's generally believed the game will move back to one to two new inductions considered every four years, Heads said the panel could look at inducting larger groups again.

"It will revert back to a more formal stage probably," chairman Ian Heads said. "But it is a bit of a moving beast, you don't know. There were other great early day players who are not there.

"Having these three great players is a bit of nod to history. There were a lot of great players. In four years' time it's going to be very interesting again.

"We're going to have to sit down and go through the whole process. You can't really pick what's going to happen."

But Canberra, NSW and Australian great Laurie Daley doesn't want to see the rules tinkered with again. Although he acknowledged it was a good call to induct five new Immortals this time, he's no fan of witnessing similar situations in future.

Mal Meninga received the ultimate honour.
Mal Meninga received the ultimate honour.

"I'm happy for it to stay as it is with those five getting inducted, but I don't want to see five get inducted in the next four years," Daley said on Sky Sports Radio's Big Sports Breakfast. "They can't change the rules again."

Sports broadcaster Terry Kennedy shared Daley's view.

"Who knows where we'll be in 2022, but they can't come out and massage the rules again," he said. "They can either nominate one or two people and they don't want to be going three (inductees).

"I'm with you (Daley), it loses its gloss if there's too many of them. Two (inductees) every four years is supposed to be the criteria … you're going to end up with a fair few, aren't you?"

Wednesday's decision surprised almost everyone in attendance, after it had previously been announced only a maximum of two players would be elevated. However there was a feeling of righting the decisions of the past, after players from the first four decades of the sport had previously been ignored.

Panel member Wayne Bennett said Phil Gould had first floated the idea at Tuesday's meeting.

"The idea was put forward. Phil Gould started it and we all bought into it," Bennett told reporters. "Todd (Greenberg, NRL CEO) spread it. He decided it was a great idea as well. By the end of the day we had worked out how we could make it work.

"But more importantly recognised we could take the burden off all those would come after making it those decisions.

"The top award in the game is the Dally Messenger Award for the player of the year and to think that he's not an Immortal was a bit ridiculous."

- with Scott Bailey, AAP


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