What They Said: Tributes flow for GI

With Greg Inglis announcing his decision to retire from rugby league after a stunning 15-year career, tributes are flowing for the Rabbitohs, Maroons and Kangaroos great.

The 32-year-old played 263 NRL games, 39 Tests and 32 Origins and was part of the most dominant team in Origin history, winning 10 series between 2006-16. 

He also inspired South Sydney to an emotional premiership triumph in 2014, icing the game with a runaway try as the Bunnies broke a 43-year drought.

Tributes to a champion

Mal Meninga

“We all understand what a great player he has been, and what a great ambassador he is. But I’m very proud of the way he’s carried himself over the course of his life.

“I’ve known Greg since he was 18. I love the person so much more than the player.

“He’s developed an aura – when he walks into a room, people feel comfortable that he’s on their side, and he makes other people around him better.

“He has obviously been a mentor for Indigenous people but he has been and will be a mentor for all Australians. He will still make a difference to a lot of people’s lives. That’s a lasting influence.”

James Maloney

"He’s a freak and has been like that his whole career. He’s had a lot of success and I don’t think there will be too many regrets. He’s done everything in the game. 

"He trampled a lot of blokes, there was the famous one where he steamrolled Jamie Soward. I remember in 2009 at Etihad and he ran around Kurt Gidley to score a try. Gidley was yelling out I’ve got him I’ve got him but then GI just put the foot down and smoked him.

"In a way it was always disappointing to lose Origin games but to lose against Queensland with him in their side and the calibre they had, it sucked losing but it was nice to have that opportunity."

Todd Greenberg

Greg's decision today may end his time on the field but it will certainly not finish the important work he will be able to achieve in the game.

“While obviously we will remember some of his incredible achievements on the field, it is clear Greg will have a lasting impact off the field.

“His work as an Indigenous mentor and his status as an ambassador for the game and a role model will continue.

“He should be enormously proud of his achievements.”

Josh Morris

“Marking up on him in Origin was the toughest one-on-one battles of my career. I’ve seen that fend do plenty of damage over the years... I used to hate it when critics would bag him around Origin because it would light a fire and we would just cop it from him.

"He was brilliant and had that aura, being across from him you were just so aware of what an athlete, what a huge man he was. There was resilience too, he had his share of injuries but could put it aside and destroy you.
“His legacy is huge. He and JT over the last 10-15 years have been instrumental for their indigenous communities and made such a positive impact there."

Joel Thompson

“The way Greg led us through the Indigenous All Stars war cry [in 2016-17], I’ll never forget that.

“He’ll go down as a great. He’s a champion player and a champion bloke. I’ve seen his qualities away from footy too – like his involvement in the [indigenous] community, which has been great.

“We need guys like him doing that, and he’s done it so well. I’m very lucky enough to say I played with him. It’s been an absolute privilege.”

All Stars captains Greg Inglis and Cameron Smith in 2016.
All Stars captains Greg Inglis and Cameron Smith in 2016.

Shane Richardson

“Greg has given us all so many wonderful memories of his feats, whether that was playing for the Rabbitohs, Melbourne, the Indigenous All Stars, Queensland or Australia, but for him it’s time to pass on that experience and knowledge to the next group of young players; to the next Greg Inglis.

“It’s also time for him to dedicate more time to his family which he will have the opportunity to do by making the decision he has.

“He wanted to finish his playing career on his terms and at the top of his game, and this decision he has made allows him to do just that."

Wayne Bennett

“I made no secret of the fact that I wanted to coach Greg one day, and even though it was only brief, I’ve really enjoyed coaching him since joining South Sydney in December.

“He has achieved so much during his playing career and I’m sure his name will be mentioned alongside the greats of the game in our history.

"Greg will be celebrated as one of the most talented players to have played our game. I think he can have as great an impact on the next group of players as a coach and I’m looking forward to joining him on that path."

Greg Inglis at his retirement media conference.
Greg Inglis at his retirement media conference. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

Boyd Cordner

"You can be here all day talking about his highlights and what he's done for the game. Everyone sees him as this superstar and this talent, which he is.

"But what he's done for the rugby league community – boys and girls – and his indigenous culture is amazing. What an impact it has been.

"I've got to to know GI over the years through  rep footy. I played my first game with him in 2013 with the Australian team and got to know him pretty well.

"We talk about how good a footballer he is, but he's a gentleman away from the paddock as well.

"It would have been good to play one more game with him but I'm glad he's been able to decide his future now. I just hope the best for him."

Luke Keary

"I was lucky to play with him in 2013 and 2014 [Rabbitohs] which I think were two of his best seasons. He'd just give you that confidence. As a half, you'd just throw him the ball.

"He did some special stuff that will get replayed for the next 100 years, which is cool."

James Tedesco

"It's a big loss for Queensland – he's been a massive player for them over the years with big plays and big moments.

"I was lucky enough to play with him in the Prime Minister's team.

"He made every side he was in feel more confident."