The NRL considers the Immortals the best of the best. They are not only the players who had exceptional careers and made it into the Hall of Fame but are also players who have had some sort of significant impact on the game, or the industry, outside of their time on the field.
While there is no denying the skills and impact these players brought to the game, some might wonder which clubs are responsible for their epic careers – whether through second chances or even spotting the diamond in the rough before the player’s career took off.
Since players change clubs from time to time, it becomes tricky to figure out precisely which club was responsible for which Immortal. For the sake of the article, however, we’re selecting the player’s debut club as the one responsible for their careers, as it acted as the kick-off point for their success in the NRL.
St. George Dragons Reign Supreme
When it comes to which club has had the most Immortals during their time of existence, the Dragons claim the title in a landslide victory.
While some of the players who played for them were only there briefly, the fact stands that a whopping five of the 13 Immortals have spent time with the club, and usually early in their careers.
Let’s look at the different players and their time at the club, starting with the earliest to the latest debuts.
Born in 1894, Frank Burge – as every other Immortal – had a stellar career in the NRL. He spent time with the St. George Dragons in 1927. He is both the player with the earliest debut date for the Dragons and the shortest time with them.
Having played 18 games for them, he scored nine tries and tallied 27 points for them. While his formative years were certainly at the Glebe Dirty Reds, he spent many years coaching the dragons, which adds to the value of his career there.
Born in 1931, Norm started and ended his career with the club, sporting a massively successful time with them.
His career with the Dragons kicked off in 1951 and continued through to 1965. During his 14 years with them, he played a whopping 256 games, scoring 64 tries and tallying a total of 194 points.
He also spent time coaching at the club, which certainly adds to his history of success there.
Reg Gasnier was born in 1939 and debuted for the St. George Dragons in 1959 before his 21st birthday. His success with the club spanned a total of eight years.
He racked an immense 421 points over 125 matches played. He even managed to score more tries than games played, coming in at 127 tries on top of 20 goals scored. Legendary is an understatement when it comes to Gasnier’s career, which is why he clearly fits the bill for Immortal.
Born in the same year as Gasnier, 1939, Johnny also enjoyed extensive success with the St George Dragons.
From 1959 to 1969, Raper played powerful rugby for the team. He enjoyed 185 matches, 47 tries, 4 goals, and 149 total points for the club. He captained Australia on eight occasions and played eight consecutive grand final victories for the Dragons.
His last season with the Dragons was as Captain-coach, and they even awarded him lifetime membership in 1971.
The youngest of the Dragons players to enjoy Immortal status is Graeme Langlands. Born in 1941 on September 2nd, Langlands had a phenomenal career in the NRL.
While his career started in Wollongong, he spent most of his club career with St. George Dragons from 1963 to 1976. During his time at the club, he played a mountainous 227 games scored 86 tries and 648 goals. His points totalled 1554 for the club by the time he stepped off the field.
One of his many accolades also includes retiring as the most capped player for the Australian National Team with 45 international appearances from 1963 to 1975. He even captained the country in 15 test matches and world cup games.
During the 1972 World Cup between Australia and Great Britain, Langlands was also the key component in a disallowed try that many consider the greatest try never scored.
What About the Other Clubs?
As we mentioned before, St. George Dragons have a landslide victory when it comes to how many Immortals have been at the club. If we had a time machine this would be the NRL team to bet on.
With a breakdown of which other Immortals were at which clubs, you’ll see why:
- Clive Churchill – South Sydney Rabbitohs
- Wally Lewis – Brisbane Broncos & Gold Coast
- Arthur Beetson – Balmain Tigers & Sydney Roosters
- Andrew Johns – Newcastle Knights
- Mal Meninga – Canberra Raiders
- Dally Messenger – Sydney Roosters