Greg Inglis Was The Most Exciting Player Of His Generation. End Of Argument.
Greg Inglis, one of the modern greats, has retired from the NRL. Know what this fan will remember?
The running: That tall, upright style, chest puffed out, ball in hand, 195cm frame impossible to stop when in full flight.
The tackling: The way he stood out there in the centres -- a part of the field where players expect to be cut down around the legs -- impeding opponents' progress like a brick wall in front of speeding cars.
The fends: The way he pushed guys out of the way like they were cardboard cutouts of rugby league players in the sports section of Kmart.
The presence: Some players just have to be there to inspire fear in the opposition. They're the calm ones. The guys who don't carry on. The ones who can change a match without appearing to sweat.
Greg Inglis was all that and more.
263 NRL games, 71 games for Queensland and Australia, the eight-year Origin streak, and that 2014 premiership with the Rabbitohs don't tell the full picture.
"Big GI" just always seemed to play in winning teams. Think that was a coincidence? Guess again. Partly it was because he was so damned good in his own right, but partly it was the GI effect.
That calmness we've already mentioned.
Ask any NRL player who they wanted in their team. It was always him. Ask any Queenslander which NSW-born-and-raised player they REALLY wanted to squeeze into a maroon jersey through a technicality. Him again.
In rugby league, it's usually the men who set up the play who everyone paints as the match-winners. The halfback, five-eighth and hooker.
Inglis was more strike weapon than an architect. But he was no less valuable than guys like Thurston, Cronk or Cam Smith. Put it this way: he was definitely the guy you wanted receiving their perfect passes.
And running wide with ball in hand, Inglis was matched only by players of the calibre of Billy Slater, Mal Meninga and Jarryd Hayne in the last 30 years or so.
Can you really say any of them were his superior?
"Yeah, that's it. That's me calling time on my career, I'm happy with myself and with my decision," Inglis said at his official retirement announcement on Monday.
And so he should be. A combination of injuries and waning enthusiasm have taken their toll. But fortunately he'll not be lost to the game.
"I'm not going anywhere, I'll still be here working with the club," he said.
"My journey's only starting now. I'm 32-years-old and I'm going back to work in a month, two weeks."
"One week," South Sydney football manager Shane Richardson corrected, and everyone laughed.
Thanks for the memories Greg. You weren't always perfect off the field, but we all saw you grow as a person, especially in your work with the indigenous community.
This reporter remembers interviewing you as an 18-year-old rookie down at the Melbourne Storm. You were huge in body in those days.
Still are. But you're also a massive figure in Australian sport now.
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Featured image: AAP.