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Greg Inglis: the greatest?

"He was the best player I ever saw, or ever will see." Just how many people will one day say that of superfreak Greg Inglis?

On the strength of Friday night’s jaw-dropping try in Brisbane, plenty.

Phil Gould declared he couldn't think of any individual try that came close, such was the speed, power and skill to beat half the Broncos team to the line. Chris Close said his fellow Queenslander was the best athlete to ever play rugby league - though he deferred to King Wally Lewis as the best player.

Most to have savoured the recent generations of league will go with Andrew Johns as the greatest. Go back further and you must take the other Immortals into account, from the tiny genius of Clive Churchill to the colossal quality of Arthur Beetson.

How about we say this: never has there been a better, more exciting or more destructive ball runner than GI.

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In full flight, the long gait is Makybe Diva or Black Caviar. The fend that goes with it is the NRL's open-handed version of Muhammad Ali’s jab. Incidentally, at 105kg he plays (as a fullback, remember) at about Ali's fighting weight.

And don't dismiss his hands as anything other than top shelf - in the Magic Johnson category. Remember, Inglis won a grand final (albeit stripped) and a Clive Churchill Medal as a five-eighth, and some of his finest moments have come from his ball handling.

Just think that ridiculous 2007 try against South Sydney, where he flew for the bomb, fumbled, then regathered in mid-air millimetres above the turf to score. Or the flying back-over-the-head pass from across the dead-ball line for Mark Gasnier's 2008 Centenary Test try. Or the running bootlaces catch from a bomb to score a critical try against Parramatta in the 2009 grand final.

Last on Inglis’ to-do list is winning a premiership that no-one can discredit - and breaking South Sydney’s 43-year drought would be fittingly grand. Also, winning a Dally M Medal as the undisputed standout player of an individual season (he has already won the 2009 Golden Boot as the world’s best player).

The 27-year-old is also banging down the door to take the Australian Test and Queensland Origin fullback jobs from Billy Slater, considered the greatest modern fullback. When he actually gets the chance to play his preferred position at the elite level, who knows what monumental feats he will add to his already immense dossier.

Once that is done, the case for his inclusion as an Immortal may well be irresistible.


DCE lighting a fire in Cronk's village

Manly superstar Daly Cherry-Evans is too polite to ever say so but he seems intent on taking the mantle of rugby league’s top halfback by force.

DCE’s phenomenal form, which saw him have a hand in SEVEN tries against the Raiders yesterday, means he is fast closing in on Storm champion Cooper Cronk.

If the reigning Dally M winner, 30, hadn't provided such superb service to Queensland and Australia in the past few years, you wouldn't have blinked if Cherry-Evans, 25, had been named at No.7 for the Trans-Tasman Test.

The Kangaroos and Maroons needn't worry about their succession plans. Whether the transfer of power is peaceful or hostile, the future will be in immensely capable hands.

Storm running out of wind

Are the mighty Melbourne Storm finally done as a premiership force?

We’re going to go out on a limb and say yes. For this season, at least. Perhaps still finals material, but not winners.

The Big Three model, with a few other well-earning players thrown into the club’s salary cap, seems to have finally thinned the Storm’s depth that little bit too much. The Origin period is looming and this time around Melbourne haven't provided themselves with a buffer of early wins to compensate for when their big names commit to Queensland duty (though Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk will only be forced to miss one game thanks to a pair of byes).

Coach Craig Bellamy has openly wondered about signing wildcard Benji Marshall to fill the five-eighth void left by Gareth Widdop, with youngster Ben Hampton still finding his feet in the key role. Meanwhile, his eternal search for cut-price front row options led him to sign a very non Storm-like player in the roly poly George Rose, who has struggled to settle in Melbourne.

You never write off champions but this year looks a bridge too far for the Storm.


Showpiece of mind

Seriously, how good are NRL showpiece games?

The trio of matches on Anzac Day enjoyed sensational attendances and the quality of the footy matched. That followed a pair of bumper crowds the previous weekend on Good Friday and Easter Monday.

Hopefully the enthusiasm is catching and big attendances are recorded for Friday's Trans-Tasman Test, Saturday’s under-20s State of Origin and Pacific Test double-header and Sunday’s City-Country clash. That's the world champion Kangaroos v the fresh-faced Kiwis, guaranteed bruises as Samoa and Fiji's finest play off for a Four Nations spot, and a genuine NSW State of Origin trial played in the footy-loving town of Dubbo.

Then bring on the crowd and TV ratings behemoth that is State of Origin.

Origin Watch

NSW: The five-eighth equation has taken another twist with injuries to James Maloney and Todd Carney. Over to you, Josh Reynolds and Jarrod Mullen, who go head-to-head in City-Country. Former Blues hooker Michael Ennis is resting an injury, giving Mitch Rein a chance to impress at a higher level. Josh Dugan claimed the Country fullback spot ahead of Blues rival Brett Stewart. Workhorse prop Aiden Tolman got a start in the Country front row, just reward for a massive start to the season, while Beau Scott and Josh Jackson are firmly in the mix. And a pair of former Blues big boppers are back, baby. Jamal Idris is in the Country centres and Tony 'T-Rex' Williams in the City back row, selections that are entirely justified on form. The City wing pairing of Jorge Taufua and Daniel Tupou could well be playing off for a Blues spot, while Will Hopoate is back in the rep mix in the centres and Joey Leilua missed out due to injury. Boyd Cordner and Josh Morris look good things to keep Blues spots after winning Test selection. Prop Andrew Fifita lost his Test spot, while James Tamou kept his and showed some form to justify it on the weekend. The shoulder problem that kept Jarryd Hayne from Test selection is only minor, while Michael Jennings should also be fine come Origin.

Queensland: Greg Inglis. In good news for NSW, he made a couple of poor errors to go with THAT try. Champion fullback Billy Slater is now officially under pressure from Inglis, according to smart judges like Steve Renouf. Cherry-Evans is also on fire, while Matt Gillett’s sensational form was recognised with the 18th man pick for Australia. Prop Matt Scott is starting to rumble along beautifully and held his Test spot, while Sam Thaiday’s calf strain won't keep him out of Kangaroos action. A certain J. Thurston is also hitting form in time for Origin, as he is prone to doing. Hitman Josh Papalii lost his Test spot but isn’t long back from injury. Darius Boyd kept his Test wing spot despite a slow start to the season.

Coach Watch

Ricky Stuart’s brief half-time spray at Brookvale Oval must have been burst-eardrum material. The Raiders mentor is officially under pressure after a humiliating effort from his 14th-placed team. Dragons mentor Steve Price is battling away mid-table, though would have been fifth if not for the Storm full-time try error. Eels boss Brad Arthur copped from the Cowboys the one thing he hoped to avoid this season: a humiliating loss. Bulldogs coach Des Hasler, he of the godly golden mullet, is the opposite of under the radar in first spot.

Tipping Watch

Your humble correspondent tipped three from eight over the weekend. This caper isn't getting any easier, is it?

TWITTER: @hdelbs

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