GI's ever-lasting impact on next generation of stars

Six wins from nine games and six tries.

Since their 2007 entry into the NRL the Titans have been tormented by Greg Inglis, yet his influence on the next generation of players will go a long way to shaping the future of the Gold Coast club.

Inglis has been a teammate and an idol for many stars of the next generation and his immediate retirement from the game on Monday was a shock.

They reflected on his impact both on and off the field and how the example he set has given them the blueprint for how to conduct their own individual careers.

Captain of the Titans, Ryan James was an awestruck 21-year-old when he played alongside Inglis for the first time in the 2013 Indigenous All Stars team.

Anointed earlier this year by Preston Campbell as a future Indigenous All Stars captain, James said he paid close attention to the evolution as Inglis as a leader in those All Stars camps.

"It got thrust upon him in a way,” James told NRL.com.

Titans prop Ryan James.
Titans prop Ryan James. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

“He was that person that everyone looked towards and it was great to be able to play alongside him in a couple of those games.

"I don't think he thought he was a leader at the start of All Stars but as he got on with what he'd done and where he'd been, it just grew with him as a person.

"He had this freakish ability but he was a down-to-earth bloke. He would talk to you about family or anything. He always had time for you so in those camps he was just always great to be around and to talk to.

"He was one of the ones that led the war cry and ‘GI’ being in the middle of the very first one gave you tingles every time you saw it."

As he came through the juniors at Cronulla a young Tyrone Peachey watched the exploits of Inglis in wonder.

Like James, Peachey was like a starstruck schoolboy when he made his All Stars debut in the 2015 team captained by Inglis and said it was incumbent on the Indigenous players now coming into the NRL to follow the example set by such legends of the game.

"Being in All Stars camp with him a few years ago – he even came and helped out this year a little bit – you can see that the fans love him," Peachey said.

"You can see that everyone who has played with him loves him. It's sad to see him leave the game but we've got a good bunch of young Aboriginal players now that can follow on from those legends like ‘GI’, ‘JT’, Sammy Thaiday and Justin Hodges that have retired the last couple of years.

"We've got a few coming through now so hopefully we can keep it going."

As a young Indigenous centre, Brian Kelly has long looked up to Inglis.

He played against the Rabbitohs legend just once when he was at the Sea Eagles in 2018 but saw the wider impact he has at last year’s Koori Knockout in Dubbo.

"He came out to the Aboriginal Knockout last year," Kelly said.

"He hadn't played in about seven years and the whole carnival came to that one field to watch him play."