Six superstars will make NRL Hall of Fame from 25 stellar candidates
More than 300 Origin jerseys and 400 Test appearances will somehow be boiled down to the next batch of NRL Hall of Fame inductees after the final 25-man shortlist was announced.
Six legends of the game will be inducted to the revamped Hall of Fame in July, joining the 100 greatest players in rugby league's history already named during centenary celebrations in 2008.
- All 25 contenders: Hall of Fame Final Ballot 2018
- Candidates finalised for NRL Hall of Fame induction
Among the final ballot of players nominated are modern-day marvels Greg Alexander, Cliff Lyons, Danny Buderus and Ricky Stuart, while the likes of Gorden Tallis, Paul Harragon and Petero Civoniceva lead the forward contingent.
Casting further back, pioneering Roosters lock Jack 'Bluey' Watkins from rugby league's earliest days is also in contention, as are 1950s wingers Ian Moir (South Sydney), Peter Dimond (Wests) and Denis Flannery (Ipswich Brothers).
History also beckons for New Zealanders Stacey Jones, Ruben Wiki and Mark Graham, who have the chance to become the first Kiwi to join the Hall of Fame, with the initial 100 inductees chosen solely from Australian representatives.
A 25-man panel – made up of historians, administrators, veteran media types and 10 current Hall of Fame members – will be tasked with choosing the six champions from this year's shortlist for induction.
With most all contenders boasting double-figure tallies for state and Test caps among a host of individual honours and premierships, the Hall of Fame's strength can be readily measured by the quality of those that don't make the cut.
"That's a good reference to the actual process and how thorough the process is," NRL awards manager Frank Puletua said.
"We go through a very defined objective model, and then we place the subjective voting up against it.
"We get a really well-rounded view of these players, their number speak for themselves. Their performances on different stages speak for themselves as well.
"There will be a chosen few who go through and it's going to be fascinating to see it play out."
Nominees will be judged according to a set of guiding principles – covering everything from creativity in attack to leadership qualities and physical endurance – designed by a group of ex-players including Nathan Hindmarsh and Andrew Ryan.
In essence, the greats of the game will be evaluated on the qualities their peers hold highest.
"It's a phenomenal list of players and it's humbling to even be considered for a nomination," Alexander told NRL.com.
"You play the game because you love it, but that kind of recognition is something pretty special.
"...We've seen other sports really take control of their Hall of Fame concept and from this year it's taking real pride of place in the game."
As with the Immortals concept, Hall of Fame contenders must be retired from the NRL for five years before nomination.
From 2019, four players will be inducted each year, with separate categories also to be created for coaches, referees and contributors to the game starting next year as well.