They have wowed, entertained and inspired us for well over a decade and now the careers of some of rugby league’s most respected players are coming to an end.

NRL.com has gone through the vault to find footage of these players on debut – or in some cases the closest we could find to their debut.

It is hard to believe now but there was once a time that all games were not recorded by camera. It is a testament to how long these icons have been playing that they played in an age where if you were a fan and not at the ground, you missed the action. The fact the great Darren Lockyer’s first game was not in our vault demonstrates this fact.

But we have found a young Lockyer ironically playing in the number six jersey – a precursor to things to come when he would make a fabled and much debated switch nine years later.

So join us in a trip back down memory lane, and watch these now established heroes in their first steps towards rugby league stardom. Reflect on how the game has changed and look back at the players that were running around when these legends first took the field.

Over the next few days we'll bring you early footage from the careers of other retiring stars of 2011, including Preston Cambpell, Alan Tongue, Andrew Ryan, Adam MacDougall, Rhys Wesser, Todd Payten, Luke Stuart, Carl Webb and Lance Hohaia.