BY CURTIS WOODWARD
Greg Inglis’ time in the National Rugby League has come to an end. On Monday, alongside South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett and club officials, the man they call ‘G.I’ announced his immediate retirement from the game, walking away achieving everything in the sport.
Premierships, Australian and Queensland jerseys, Golden Boots, Clive Churchill Medal, you name it, he’s got it.
Inglis isn’t a great of the game.
He is a legend of the game.
“What a career,” Inglis said in front of media and teammates.
“I think it’s time and it’s the right decision for myself. I’ve been contemplating it for a while. My body hasn’t given up on me but it’s the right time to retire.”
Now his attention turns to what will be the toughest transition he’ll ever have to make in his life. One day you’re one of the most recognisable professional athletes in Australian sport, the next you’re a fan like the rest of us.
And while it’s sad Inglis hasn’t been able to go out on his terms, there’s always another waiting in the wings. The production line in our sport is incredible.
For months, whispers out of Redfern had been something was amiss with ‘The Goanna’. The big man was struggling. On the other side of Anzac Parade, Latrell Mitchell’s star shined brighter by the week. The Sydney Roosters centre has been arguably the form player of the premiership thus far.
While the Rabbitohs icon sat in the crowd on the Sunshine Coast Saturday watching his teammates beat the Warriors, Mitchell reminded us all of a gangly indigenous kid who burst onto the scene at the Melbourne Storm all those years ago.
The final passing of the torch occurred at around 8.30 on Saturday evening at Shark Park.
With the Roosters putting the cleaners through Cronulla, the Tricolours trotted out of the second half. Within a minute, they were pressing the Sharks line. It could have been Inglis circa 2007. It wasn’t. It was Latrell.
Taking an inside pass at a million miles an hour, Mitchell made a jagging run back into the teeth of the Cronulla defence. It was one of those moments when you knew something brilliant was about to take place. So Latrell straightens on his line, crashes into the Cronulla wall and takes the contact but as he does, skillfully offloads to a gleeful James Tedesco for the try.
It was masterful yet so simple.
Pass the ball to your best player and something will happen.
For so many years, that man was Greg Inglis.
We won’t remember the end.
We’ll remember that remarkable solo effort against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium and the incredible over-the-head miracle he handed Mark Gasnier in a Test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground, bumping Jamie Soward into the next suburb one night at ‘The Graveyard’, the field goal in the 2009 grand final and the try and celebrations in 2014 when the Bunnies finally won back the crown.
Who knows if he’ll be an Immortal.
What can’t be disputed is Greg Inglis will always be in the Immortal debate.
How many players can lay claim to that?
Coach Bennett was full of praise at the announcement.
“Greg will be celebrated as one of the most talented players to have played our game. I think he can have as great an impact on the next group of players as a coach and I’m looking forward to joining him on that path,” Bennett began.
“What he has done for his clubs, for his people, for Queensland and for Australia over a long period time has been exceptional, and today he starts to walk the next path in his career.”
The undisputed fact is he and Billy Slater made the Storm sexy and helped put the club on the map in Victoria. Before the ‘Big Three’, there were the ‘Big Four’.
He then joined the Rabbitohs as the missing piece to their puzzle. Souths already had the Hollywood owner, Sam Burgess and a top notch roster. The addition of Inglis made them a premiership juggernaut.
All undisputed facts.
263 NRL games, 39 Tests, 32 Origins, three premierships, a World Cup, 149 tries.
“I owe everything to Rugby League and for that I will forever be grateful,” he said.
“And I feel as though I have given everything I’ve had to the game on the field.”
You have and we thank you.
Behold the mighty Greg Inglis.