Queenslanders would have woken up this morning feeling filthy, after a nightmare Thursday evening.
Mal Meninga, one of the state’s favourite sporting sons, was shamefully overlooked as rugby league’s eighth Immortal in favour of Andrew Johns. And another favourite son in Quade Cooper dropped his second bombshell of the week to make his future as a Wallaby untenable.
Johns retired just five years ago, the minimum qualification to be considered an Immortal. The indecent haste in which he was inducted leaves a bad taste.
Of the other three in contention, Meninga retired in 1994, Ron Coote in 1978, and Norm Provan in 1965.
There are far too many loose ends in claiming Immortal status.
First and foremost, since its inception in 1981, the concept has been owned by rugby league Week. It is so important Immortals should be decided by an official independent body, which also includes votes from the fans.
Of the 18 who voted in Johns, 16 live in Sydney. Think back a couple of months when Meninga predicted he wouldn’t get the nod because the selectors were mainly from NSW.
And he was right on the money.
One of the criteria for original selectors Frank Hyde, Harry Bath, and Tom Goodman in 1981 was they had to have seen contenders play. They selected Clive Churchill, Reg Gasnier, Johnny Raper, and Bobby Fulton.
No argument there whatsoever, except the omission of Ken Irvine.
Now there’s a generation gap appearing on that criteria, which can only get worse.
Only seven of the 18 would have seen Provan play.
A few more for Coote. Both deserve the Immortal honour yet, based on the “seen play” criteria, each year that goes by makes it less likely for them.
And finally, the criteria should be expanded to include coaches such as Jack Gibson, who revolutionised rugby league, and what any contender has done to promote and enhance the code off the field.
I’m a Sydneysider, but Mal Meninga can feel justifiably cheated today, and for many more days to come.
Quite the opposite for Quade Cooper, who is digging himself a deep grave.
As if a “toxic environment” within the Wallaby ranks wasn’t damaging enough earlier in the week, last night Cooper raised the criticism bar by saying, “If people want to go out there and play a boring brand of football, then there’s other guys they can pick to do that.
“As a five-eighth you’d like to think you had some input into the game plans and sometimes that goes in one ear and out the other.
“I’m an attacking player, and if they want me to be defensive, where is the input?”
When asked if he was selected for the Wallabies this weekend would he play?
“No, it’s the environment I’m not happy with at the moment, it makes me uncomfortable”.
Bye Quade, and that’s a self-inflicted tragedy. On song, he’s been spectacular and exciting to watch, he will be missed.