There is no doubt that Greg Inglis is one of the greatest players in State of Origin history.
Since that very first Origin game back in 1980, there is no question we have seen some of the greatest talent the game has ever seen wear the famous Maroons jersey. We can look to players such as Arthur Beetson, Wally Lewis, Gordon Tallis, Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Billy Slater – all of whom have made their mark in a Queensland shirt. However, there is another player that is missing from this list – Inglis.
Now as the man himself called time on his legendary career, we pay tribute and take an in depth look in to the career and achievements of GI.
Born out of Kempsey in New South Wales, his rugby league journey actually began as a 15-year-old where he was discovered at a junior carnival where from there he played his first senior game for Hunter Sports High School in NSW. He would later move to Brisbane where he turned out for Wavell State High School before then turning out for Northern Suburb Devils. As a 17-year-old, he became somewhat of try-scoring phenomenon during his time at the Melbourne feeder club. He was already being dubbed as a potential superstar in the making.
By the end of 2004 and going into the 2005 season, Inglis found himself included on the Storm’s full-time roster and over the course of the year, the progressive centre was still making a name for himself in the Queensland Cup and he scored a staggering 12 tries in the space of five games before getting the nod up the big leagues.
In round six of the 2005 NRL season, the up and comer made his official debut for Melbourne against the Parramatta Eels as a replacement for an injured Jake Webster. The game itself may have come as a loss but the rugby league world had been introduced to the budding superstar as he scored a try in a 26-14 loss. Later in the season, he would begin to show his versatility to play a variety of positions by moving from winger to full-back in a game against South Sydney – another game and another try for the young prodigy as he was able to grasp a hold of continued opportunities.
Now, if there was a moment that defined his rookie season, then it would be during the finals because as an 18-year-old, GI discovered his first taste of NRL finals rugby and again a chance to shine was presented to him after Slater hobbled off the field due to injury. In a play-off game against Brisbane, Inglis was barely on the field for five minutes when he scored the match winning try and in the end, he showed he had the big game mentality.
The 2005 season being stoic in the legendary player’s career, claiming the Dally M Rookie of the Year medal for the season and rightly so. The versatile back quickly became a player to be revered as during his time at Melbourne between 2005-10, his bullish strength and ability to produce the top tries became something that just seemed natural to him. A set of traits that saw him thrust on to the State of Origin scene with Queensland in 2006 in only his second professional season in the game and from there, his Maroons legacy began. Despite a 17-16 loss against New South Wales, Inglis still made it another dream debut and as the standout player for his State, the centre scored two tries as well saving one in the process. The match set the foundations of what would later be seen of the great career of Inglis.
The international scene came calling not long after making his Australia debut in the 2006 Tri-Nations series, showing once again how difficult it was to stop the man getting over the try-line by scoring four tries in the opening three games against both New Zealand and Great Britain.
He continued to make waves through the latter part of the 2000s, with his physical attributes the be all and end all. In his six seasons with Melbourne, Inglis continued to showcase an unbridled physical presence and creative flair that saw him feature in several positions whether it was at full-back, centre or even stand-off, there never looked to be a spot where he did not feel at home. During his time at the Storm, you only need to look at his personal accolades to see how quickly he made his presence felt on the sport. In 2007 and in only his third season with Melbourne, he was named at centre in Melbourne’s team of the decade before being selected in the Indigenous team of the century in 2008. An unbelievable achievement for a player who had only played three full seasons of professional rugby league.
The 2009 season proved to be one of the highest points of his career claiming the Golden Boot award as the best player in the world at the time, dominating at club, state and international level by leading the Storm’s charge to the Grand Final with 16 tries in 23 appearances.
By the end of his Melbourne career in 2010, Inglis had scored 78 tries in 188 appearances along with a whole host of personal accolades to go on top of this. Although the Storm’s Grand Final wins in both 2007 and 2009 were later stripped due to financial breaches, there 2000s team still stands as one of the greatest ever and a team that will live long in the memory.
At the age of 24, Inglis made the switch over to the South Sydney Rabbitohs, where his talent to find the try-line was still on show, reaching double figures in tries in three out of his first four seasons with the Bunnies. The 2014 season even seeing him officially claim a third NRL Premiership title whilst filling the full-back spot for Souths.
The 2018 season was to be his last in the Maroons colours but his legacy and influence for Queensland will never be forgotten in the sport, finishing as the State’s all-time top try scorer with 18 tries in 27 appearances and another indication as to how prolific he was. Between 2005-10, the world of rugby league had not seen seen a player of Inglis’ magnitude for some time and his dominance was nothing more than a sight to behold in most respects. The former Melbourne and Souths star was able to establish himself as part of a Queensland dynasty that won ten State of Origin series in 11 years between 2006-16. By April 2019, Inglis called time on his remarkable career due to injury concerns and overall had made 263 appearances while scoring 149 tries at domestic level.
It was a career full of up and downs but one thing that never seemed to be lost was the pure skill of GI. A naturally born athletic freak who when you talk about having the whole package, he was it. When we talk about traits and skills of the rugby league player, many words are just thrown out there that they just become a borderline cliché. You hear terms like power, speed and agility as they became generic terms to describe any form of talent in the rugby league world. But for Inglis they were not just that, they were everything and he was as a one of kind generational player. The ultimate Queenslander, a big game player and talent will be hard pressed to find again so very soon. Thank you GI!
Accomplishments and accolades
2006 Rugby League International Federation International Newcomer of the Year Award
2007 Melbourne Storm Team of the Decade (Centre)
2007 Clive Churchill Medallist
2008 Indigenous Team of the Century (Centre)
2008 Dally M Peter Frilingos Memorial Award for the headline moment of the year
2008 Dally M Five-eighth of the Year
2008 Dally M Representative Player of the Year
2009 Wally Lewis Medallist
2009 Dally M Representative Player of the Year
2009 Melbourne Storm Back of the Year Award
2009 Rugby League Four Nations Player of the Tournament
2009 Golden Boot Award Rugby League World International Player of the Year
2010 World Club Challenge Winners
2013 Dally M Full-back of the Year
2013 Dally M Provan-Summons Medallis
2014 NRL Grand Final Winners