IT'S TIME: Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga during the World Cup last year.
IT'S TIME: Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga during the World Cup last year. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Meninga deserves to be an immortal

OPINION: The time for debate is over. The time has come for Bundy's Mal Meninga to become the next immortal of the Australian Rugby League.

Meninga was shortlisted alongside nine other former players to become the ninth immortal later this year.

He was joined by Brian Bevan, Dave Brown, Frank Burge, Ron Coote, Duncan Hall, Ken Irvine, Darren Lockyer, Dally Messenger and Norm Provan, who were also announced.

At this stage either one or two of those players will be inducted later this year by the ARL commission.

But even if it is one of two, our Mal deserves to be picked.

Meninga was the closest not to be picked in 2012 when the last immortal was picked, which was Andrew Johns.

The decision, according to media, was between him or Johns.

But the selection of Meninga into the immortals goes further than that.

His record and legacy with the game warrants his selection.

He achieved the pinnacle in the Brisbane Rugby League competition, winning the title with Souths in 1981 before becoming one of the Queenslanders in the 80s that trailblazed in the New South Wales Rugby League competition.

He led a non-Sydney or non-Brisbane team to a dominance not seen since the recent days of the Melbourne Storm, which was tarnished because of salary cap dramas almost a decade ago.

Meninga led the Raiders to three titles as captain, and the side made five grand finals during his career.

He then dominated for Queensland and Australia.

Meninga showed his durability by playing every game in four European tours for Australia in 1982, 1986, 1990 and 1994.

He is also the only Australian player to captain two of those tours and did it with broken bones and injuries as well.

The 57-year-old, when he retired, had the most appearances for Australia and Queensland, which has since been overtaken by others.

But what set Meninga apart, was his versatility.

He would charge through defences as a centre for most of his career but at times he was also an explosive second rower, who was used in that position for two tests for Australia.

He set the benchmark for the competition in the 80s, as it transitioned towards a national competition, fought through pain to play almost every single match he could for state and country and did it in multiple positions.

And he's not stopped since, guiding Queensland as a coach to nine State of Origin series wins and a victory at the World Cup for Australia last year.

But unfortunately that isn't judged to decide an immortal.

Meninga deserves his place in the elite.

Hopefully the judges can think the same way when the decision is finalised later this year.