I have followed enough sport over the years especially rugby league to know the expression "We'll never see another like him" is used far to often when our favourite players retire.

On the other hand, I totally agree with another old saying: "You never truly appreciate just how great a player was until they are gone."

Rugby league is set to farewell its most recent batch of superstars in coming seasons with Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Greg Inglis all close to calling fulltime on marvellous careers which sit them alongside the game's best ever.

But have no fear, a new wave of young stars is waiting in the wings.

Rugby league has been that way for over 100 years.

The well of players has never run dry of wonderful specimens who can excite fans.

In the past two decades those fans have farewelled the likes of Darren Lockyer, Andrew Johns and Brad Fittler – three exceptional players – all of whom left their own indelible mark on rugby league.

Their legacies - like those of past heroes Clive Churchill, Dally Messenger, Jim Craig, Frank Burge, Keith Holman, Harold Horder, Duncan Thompson, Reg Gasnier, Johnny Raper, Arthur Beetson Bob Fulton and Wally Lewis - will live on forever.

Those names though are only a small sample of players who fall into the champion category who have played this truly great game.

Maybe we will never see another Gasnier or Raper, another Beetson, Johns or even Lewis.

But players have come along since who've emulated their feats, broken their playing records, and gained the same accolades and honours.

The debate will always rage as to whom is rugby league's greatest player – and it usually comes down to which side of the border you were born.

Queenslanders say it was Lewis, Thurston, Smith or Beetson while NSW fans vote for Johns, Fulton, Raper or Fittler.

It's the same debate in most sports when the age-old chestnut is dragged out.

Probably the only sport in Australia I can think of where there is no debate who about who is its GOAT (Greatest of All Time) is cricket.

The late Sir Donald Bradman wins that argument hands down.

There have been other greats who've dominated their individual sports like champion swimmer Dawn Fraser, snooker's amazing Lindrum brothers, and squash legend Heather Mackay, who enjoyed incredible success.

But none scaled the heights of Bradman.

Despite technology changes and better equipment, the batting feats of the man simply referred to as 'The Don' have never been threated and probably never will.

His career average of 99.94 remains a benchmark that may never be beaten, and there have been some incredible batsmen who have tried since he retired in the late 1940s.

Along with the idolised racehorse Phar Lap, Bradman kept Australians in high spirits with his marvellous batting exploits during the Depression Years.

Now the time has come for rugby league to discover some new heroes, some new superstars to replace those who have been rugby league's entertainers for more than a decade.

Maybe we will never see another Thurston, or indeed Smith, just maybe they were 'once in a lifetime players'.

But I bet, in a few more years from now, we'll be talking in glowing terms about the likes of Kaylyn Ponga, Latrell Mitchell, Tevita Pangai junior, Jai Arrow, Payne Haas, Viliame Kikau, AJ Brimson and a

few others young guns who have the rugby league world at their exceptionally talented feet.
Mitchell, 21, Jai Arrow, 23, and Ponga, 20, have already played Origin.

Mitchell and Ponga are already two of the most exciting players in rugby league and neither is even close to their full potential.

Pangai jnr and Haas are two young monsters which Brisbane is building their future on, while the hitting power of 23 year-old Fijan forward Kikau is simply scary.

And these are just some of rugby league's next generation players we could be taking about for the next decade.

It's exciting times ahead.