BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA — DECEMBER 02: England coach Wayne Bennett looks on during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Final between the Australian Kangaroos and England at Suncorp Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA — DECEMBER 02: England coach Wayne Bennett looks on during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Final between the Australian Kangaroos and England at Suncorp Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Bennett’s Immortal ambition

ATTENTION NRL, Wayne Bennett is expecting your phone call.

Bennett cares deeply about the Immortals concept having previously been a judge, but he is yet to hear from anyone at rugby league HQ.

It comes as the NRL is set unveil a working committee for the Immortals in the New Year after taking ownership of the concept from Rugby League Week magazine.

Bennett would like to play a role on the committee, but he hasn't had contact from the NRL.

"But I'd like to be involved, because no one has coached longer than I have," Bennett told The Daily Telegraph.

"There are also very few administrators out there that have been around longer than I have.

"My point is, I go back a fair way so when we go back to talk about the past players at least we've I've got some content and knowledge in my head about who were and weren't the great players.

Johns was the last player inducted into the Immortals.
Johns was the last player inducted into the Immortals.

"I'd also like there to be a more consistent approach to the Immortals.

"There should be an Immortal every two years and get some better rules around it all - you can't just wake up one morning and think we are going to have an Immortals meeting."

Bennett says he is determined to see the right players chosen, including previously snubbed champions like Mal Meninga and Norm Provan.

Andrew Johns was the last Immortal inductee in 2012 ahead of some of the game's greatest names.

Bennett, though, would like to see the Immortals revisit past players like Provan and Meninga.

"If you have to go back 30 years, then you go back 30 years," he said.

"If that isn't the consensus and opinion of everyone in the meeting, then that is fine.

"That said, why can't Norm Provan be an Immortal?.

"But there should have been a better plan. The game should have taken over the concept years ago. But it's not Rugby League Week's fault, I'm not blaming them as they did a great job, but the game never supported them to make it a prestigious thing.

"So here we are five years since Johns was made an Immortal and we are missing generations of players."

There have also been calls for current stars like Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith to become Immortals while they are playing.

Under the old rules governed by RLW, a player had to be retired for at least five years before they could be considered for league's elite group.

Bennett agrees, saying a player should be judged when they hang up the boots.

"We need to have rules and standards," he said.

"Johnathan Thurston will be an Immortal. I know that and you know that, but he has got to wait his time.

"I don't see why they have to be an Immortal while they are playing.

"Being an Immortal is for when you are finished and there should be at least a two year wait."

If Bennett is approached by the NRL to join the Immortals committee, he doesn't want to be dictated too.

He insists it's important all members are given the opportunity to voice their opinions and ideas.

"I don't want to come on to the committee if they are going to tell me we are starting off new and they are going to lay down what we are and are not going to do," he said.

"Let's get five or six of us together and go back to the NRL and say, 'hey, this is what we want.

"That's the way it should be."

Bennett says his main motivation to be involved with the Immortals is to ensure future generations understand the concept's importance.

"Because our young players and the kids of the future need to know what these great men did and what made them so special," he said.

"We should also produce a documentary of a 30-40 minute duration that can be shown on Fox Sports and you can go and buy it at the shops.

"If I'm a 10 year old in 10 years' time and I've never seen Thurston play, then I can go and watch footage of what made him so special.

"It's like your green and gold, you've got to keep it alive, fresh and in people's minds.

"The game does need to own the Immortals, I've got no doubt about that, but they've got to own it 100 per cent."


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