Cameron Smith soars to top of Immortal list with NRL’s new eligibility rules

Cameron Smith soars to top of Immortal list with NRL's new eligibility rules

Cameron Smith and Queensland’s era of State of Origin greats are in contention to become Immortals as soon as August under the NRL’s revised hall-of-fame rules.

The NRL on Thursday outlined plans to add a 14th Immortal next month, as part of an expanded hall of fame that would be added to each year.

Previously, players had to be retired for at least five seasons to be considered for rugby league immortality.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 16: (L-R) Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith and Darren Lockyer embrace during the national anthem before game two of the ARL State of Origin Series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at Suncorp Stadium on June 16, 2010 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith and Darren Lockyer. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

However, revised rules announced Thursday have reduced that time out of the game to three seasons.

As part of the process, the NRL will announce 11 new men’s players, six women’s players, two coaches, two referees and four contributors to the hall of fame.

Any member of the hall of fame, which currently sits at 110 players, will then be eligible to achieve Immortal status at a ceremony on August 21.

Smith has been retired from rugby league for three and a half years, having played his last game for Melbourne in the 2020 grand final.

Billy Slater is also eligible after retiring in 2018, as is Johnathan Thurston, who retired in the same year.

Cooper Cronk, who won six grands finals but would be unlikely to feature ahead of his Queensland teammates, is also now eligible after his 2019 retirement.

Andrew Johns is the most recent member of the Immortals group, added in 2012.

Mal Meninga and Norm Provan were inducted in 2018, along with three pre-war players in Dave Brown, Frank Burge and Dally Messenger.

Darren Lockyer, Brian Bevan, Duncan Hall, Ken Irvine and Ron Coote were among others to miss out in 2018, and could still be considered.

It comes as the NRL also confirmed that commentator David Morrow would be one of those inducted into the hall of fame.

“Those being acknowledged are legends of the game and their achievements through the course of the game’s history will now be honoured in the hall of fame forever,” chairman Peter V’landys said. 

“I’m so pleased that the group were unanimous around the induction of David Morrow. 

“David is a legendary contributor to the game over many decades and has provided colourful and insightful coverage of the game in his own unique style.

 “He has a health battle on his hands and the committee were steadfast in their view that ‘Thirsty’ should be afforded this recognition as soon as possible.”

From next year on, the NRL will induct two men’s players and one women’s player per year, as well as two coaches, two referees and two contributors every four years.

A new Immortal will also be announced every four years under the plan.

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