Changing of the guard
A week that started with the NRL announcing the Toyota Cup team of the year will finish with some of the game’s most respected and admired players taking the field for the last time. It is poetic and inevitable; the new guns arriving on the scene, setting out on their rugby league journey to make a name for themselves, while at the other end of the scale some careers are coming to an end.
The legends of our game cannot outrun father time and for the players who have given us so much over the past decade and who are ending their football careers, we as footy fans say thank you. Thank you for all the memories, the blood, sweat and tears that you have given the game. Your legacy will live on, long after you are retired.
But rest assured the future is in good hands. The members of the 2011 Toyota Cup Team of the Year join an honour roll that in four seasons has already produced nine internationals, five Origin representatives and a host of NRL stars including Chris Sandow, Kieran Foran, Tariq Sims, Ryan James, Tim Mannah, Jamal Idris, Ben Barba, Gareth Widdop, Trent Merrin, Daly Cherry-Evans, Jharal Yow Yeh, Tim Mannah, Ben Matulino, Shaun Fensom and Dylan Farrell.
As one chapter ends, a new one is just beginning.
From the Vault
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.
Over the next few days we'll bring you early footage from the careers of retiring stars of 2011, including Darren Lockyer, Preston Cambpell, Alan Tongue, Andrew Ryan, Adam MacDougall, Rhys Wesser, Todd Payten, Luke Stuart, Carl Webb, Trent Waterhouse and Lance Hohaia.
From Heroes to Legends
2011 will see the end of the careers of some of the most iconic players in our great code. Players who have become our sporting heroes both on and off the field over the past decade will hang up their boots for the last time at the end of the season.
The last round of the Telstra Premiership is your opportunity to farewell some of these great players, and acknowledge the contribution they have made to our game. NRL.com is asking you to send in your tributes.
DID YOU KNOW?
- 241 Toyota Cup players have gone on to play in the NRL
MATCH CENTRE – ROUND 26
Get all the team lists, head-to-head stats and our match previews in the match centre. Plus live stats and scores, match highlights and much much more!
Updated Team Lists - all the latest team news.
THIS WEEK ON NRL.com
Official View: Referees co-coach says referees restored order at Brookvale.
NRL Mailbox: Where the money from fines gets distributed.
Stats Insider: We look at why the order of the top 8 matters in the finals.
Sterling Gold: Playoffs begin a week early with the Knights taking on the Rabbitohs for the final top-eight spot.
Next Gen: Toyota Cup Commentator Matt Russell gives you all the facts about the Team of the Year.
On the Road: Steve Mascord goes on a rugby league pilgrimage to Wembley for the Challenge Cup Final, but still made it back in time to see the Wests Tigers move into the top four at Campbell town.
Coach's Box: Graham Murray thinks it could be another Melbourne-Brisbane Grand Final in 2011.
In Touch: Leila McKinnon says the events at Brookvale Oval brought mixed reactions.
VIDEO ON NRL.COM
Join us on Facebook & Twitter
Join over 375,000 fans and 'like' us on Facebook.
Join over 25,000 fans on twitter @NRL