RUGBY LEAGUE: Norm Provan and Mal Meninga have joined Dally Messenger, Frank Burge and Dave Brown as the next five rugby league Immortals in a surprise announcement at the Sydney Cricket Ground earlier this week.

Originally set to be a maximum of two players on the 10-man nominees list welcomed into rugby league's most exclusive club, pre-war pioneers Messenger, Burge and Brown were the first three men named in front of a crowd of league dignitaries.


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The five were granted Immortal status by a panel that consisted of current Immortals Wally Lewis, Bob Fulton and Andrew Johns, along with Broncos coach Wayne Bennett, Phil Gould, Ray Warren, Steve Crawley and former Rugby League Week editors Ian Heads and Norm Tasker.

But is five Immortals in the one hit too many? Moose is joined Behind the Sports Desk by Northy to find out.

MOOSE ELKERTON: We can't dilute importance of immortality

I APPLAUD the NRL for finally showing recognition to the men who built the foundations of the game.

To grant Immortal status to three pre-war era players - Dally Messenger, Dave Brown and Frank Burge - took some serious consideration and a sprinkling of guts.

Finally, the game has stepped up to celebrate the history that makes it what it is today. Like the classic saying when you drink the water, remember those who plumbed the well.

It needed to happen, but this should be where it ends.

The concept of the NRL Immortals was haphazard, if not illogical, when run by the team at Rugby League Week.

There was a lack of uniformity, and that has been addressed by the NRL upper echelon with a plan to induct two new members every four years. But is that overkill?

In terms of player generations, that could be from eight to 12 players selected from each generation.

That can only dilute the pool of talent that is the Immortals. And where does it leave the rugby league Hall of Fame. It's almost unnecessary.

In the current generation of players, only two deserve the Immortal status and that is Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith.

There have been plenty more that are talented and have won premierships, but only those two epitomise the idea of the Immortal.

We shouldn't pick players because we need to make up the expected numbers.

BILL NORTH: Three's a crowd, five's a circus

"COP out" was my initial reaction when I first read five Immortals had been inducted into rugby league's holy grail.

But the idea of addressing the pre-war era once and for all and then shutting the door makes great sense, and rightly honours those who have paved the way for the game as we know it today.

The NRL's greatest individual accolade bears Dally Messenger's name, so in my opinion he's a shoo-in. Like most, I don't have much idea on the other two, which was exactly the point - move on the game's pioneers now while some semblance of memory still exists.

However, the selectors should've settled on those three and left it there. Settle on those three and leave the decision on those living players up to the next round of endorsements. But what's a Hall of Fame dinner with no live inductees? That would be no fun, so it had to stay somewhat contrived.

If they'd just gone with two as originally planned, my other pick would've been Norm Provan who, like Messenger, is already immortalised in NRL folklore on the Provan-Summons Trophy for the NRL premiers.

Meninga has his place too. After a stellar playing career in itself, his win streak as coach of Queensland's State of Origin side is comparable only to that of the Dragons' run from 1956 to 1966. But that could definitely have waited.

What I do like about the current list is that it is the perfect number 13 - a true team of Immortals.

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