PEARLS OF WISDOM
Why Mal Meninga Should Be The Next Immortal
When the next Immortals are named, I firmly believe Darren Lockyer and Mal Meninga should be bestowed with the honour.
Look at their longevity in the game and what they achieved. They were true greats worthy of being named in the company of the eight Immortals.
Mal went on a record-breaking four Kangaroo tours and was dominant at that level. He was one of the original Maroons in Origin and was front and centre of their success for 15 years.
Then you consider what he did for the Canberra Raiders in establishing that club as a powerhouse of the late 1980s right through to the mid-1990s.
What he achieved at Souths in Brisbane - where he also won two premierships - is often forgotten, but it shouldn't be.
He achieved everything in the game at the highest level and I love the way he did it. Mal was a great captain for all those teams, a true leader, and he had a presence. He was a player and a man who has always earned respect. In that regard, he was second to none.
As a footballer, Mal was a giant, quick and strong. He was big enough to bowl people over and he had good hands. He was unselfish. That is why a lot of wingers scored tries outside him. Mal had the whole skill set. He was very smart with everything he did.
I really can't believe he hasn't been made an Immortal already. I recently learned Mal played 519 games for his club and representative sides, and he was out of action for 18 months with two broken arms. That's two or three careers worth of games for most people.
Locky dominated at fullback and five-eighth for the Broncos, Queensland and Australia. I can't begin to describe how hard that is to do, and he did it with ease. It would be comparable to Wally Lewis playing fullback and being a superstar there as well. I would have liked to have seen that one.
When I played with Locky at every level he was in the fullback position but it was like having a second five-eighth. I scored a lot of tries off Kevin Walters passes, and in my short time with Locky I scored a lot off him as well.
He was a wonderful runner across the ground. I knew straight away the kid was special and I knew if I could get in support of him, something would happen.
Locky was a great passer and kicker of the ball, and he had vision. He could read the play ahead of the rest. As a fullback he was the master at catching a high ball. We'd call him "Roo Boy" because he could get right up there.
After the players of my era left, he guided the Broncos to more success and held the club together. His 355 games and four premierships for Brisbane speak for themselves.
He wasn't a big talker, but like Mal, he was respected by all those around him and captained every team he played in with class whether that be the Broncos, Maroons or Kangaroos.
When he captained those there teams to the trifecta of NRL, State of Origin and Four Nations titles in 2006 he really made a statement.
What he did as captain of Queensland was unbelievable. I can remember prior to 2006 there was an Origin match where some FOGS (Former Origin Greats) were blowing up at him because he wasn't in a game, which was unusual for him. Then he led the team on that remarkable winning streak and helped Queensland turn it all around. That was the hallmark of a champion.
To be made an Immortal you have to be a special player, a player who can be defined as a great in any era.
That is why I am certain that Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston will be installed as Immortals in the future. Their time will come.
The missing two Immortals right now are Mal and Locky. I really hope the judges of this elite honour add those two greats to the list and we'll have a perfect 10.