The greatest games NRL’s newest Immortals played
GET to know rugby league's five new Immortals with a history lesson on the greatest games Frank Burge, Dally Messenger, Dave Brown, Mal Meninga and Norm Provan ever played.
1911, NSW vs Queensland, Game I
Messenger's feats from the dawn of rugby league history can sometimes feel like mythology, but the cold, hard facts of his performance for New South Wales against Queensland in 1911 stand alone. In the Blues thumping 65-9 victory, Messenger tallied an absurd 32 points from four tries and 10 goals. The record was equaled by Ryan Girdler in 2000, but is yet to be beaten and Girdler has the advantage of four-point tries. A goal-kicking, pointscoring, sport-building marvel, Messenger totally bamboozled the hapless Queenslanders in what remains the state's biggest ever defeat. It formed a mighty series for Messenger - all told he scored 75 points for the Blues across the series. No other player from either side cracked double figures.
1963, grand final
Of all the games Provan played perhaps none was better than the 1963 grand final. In the muck and mud of the SCG, Provan led the Dragons to the most controversial and competitive decider of their 11 year dynasty, as they outlasted the Magpies 8-3. Given the black and whites had toppled Saints twice during the regular season, it may be the greatest of their many victories during their unparalleled dominance. It was after this match that Provan, who won man of the match, was captured in his iconic pose with Wests captain Arthur Summons. The iconic shot, dubbed "The Gladiators" by snapper John O'Gready, was immortalized in it's own way when it formed the premiership trophy.
1990, Second Test, Ashes series
Meninga will forever be the only man to make four Kangaroo tours and his efforts in his 46 Tests were nothing short of superhuman. But he never scored a more important try than his matchwinner in the second match of the 1990 Ashes series. With Australia reeling after losing the first Test, the Kangaroos two-decade stranglehold on the Ashes seemed tenuous. Great Britain had levelled the scores in the final stages with an intercept try from Paul Loughlin off Ricky Stuart. Deep into injury time, Stuart dummied and ran from his own 20 and found his skipper alongside him. Meninga rumbled over to score the try, win the match and keep the series alive. The Kangaroos did the job in the Third Test in one of the great series between the two old rivals.
1935, Roosters vs Canterbury
Some of the records Brown, who was dubbed "the Bradman of League", set during his illustrious career with Eastern Suburbs still stand and may never be broken. Case in point was his masterclass in an 87-7 thumping of a hapless Canterbury side in 1935. At the very peak of his powers, Brown scored five tries and kicking 15 goals for a personal points tally of 45. No other player in premiership history has scored more than 40 points in a single match. If four-point tries were in vogue, Brown would have cracked the half century on his own. It formed the cornerstone of a truly stellar season for Brown - he scored 38 tries (a record which still stands) and 238 points (which stood until 1969) as the Tricolours lost just once all season en route to the premiership.
1920, Glebe vs University
Burge remains the greatest tryscoring forward the sport has ever seen, running in 162 tries in 167 games for Glebe and St George and the afternoon he had against University almost 100 years ago stands alone as an example of his prowess. Against the hapless Students, Burge was totally unstoppable from lock forward and ran in eight tries, a mark nobody has ever matched in the top grade. Easts winger Rod O'Loan crossed for seven in one match in 1935 and Burge himself once scored six in a match, as have four others, but his tally stands alone. Throw in four goals and Burge had 32 of Glebe's points in the 41-0 route.