Greg Inglis retired this week – a great of the game who played at the highest level where he combined an electrifying mix of speed and power – however, he first caught the eye of rugby league fans in a major way as a teenager with the Norths Devils.
Last season writer Robert Burgin trawled through the QRL archives to find the earliest mentions of Inglis in match reports for the former Queensland Cup – now known as the Intrust Super Cup.
The written reports reveal just how much of a revelation the Indigenous All Star, Queensland and Australia representative was when he started out.
Some of the highlights were:
- Inglis debuting for the Norths Devils in the Queensland Cup in Round 7 of the 2004 season as a 17-year-old; he was named in the centres opposite Wynnum Manly pair Greg Bourke and Simon Phillips (both with NRL experience) and he scored two tries that day. Inglis was also awarded the full three points in the QANTAS Player of the Year voting, despite playing in a Norths team that featured names such as Rodney Howe, Antonio Kaufusi, Cooper Cronk and Jeremy Smith.
- After returning to the competition after a few weeks off due to junior representative commitments, Inglis scored four tries against an Easts team that contained former Australian Test player Darren Smith.
- Overall in 2004, Inglis played six Queensland Cup games (including two finals), where he scored eight tries and kicked six goals.
- In 2005, Inglis played 12 Queensland Cup games, scored 18 tries and kicked 39 goals.
- That same year, Inglis won the Courier-Mail Best and Fairest award. He also finished on 20 points in the QANTAS Player of the Year award (for all Queensland Cup clubs) despite playing roughly half a season. Ipswich's Ricky Bird won with 31 votes.
"He ended up getting 27 points and won player of the year,” O’Sullivan said.
“He played nine games and got man-of-the-match in every game. He is just clearly the most gifted athlete I have ever come across."
However, the first time Inglis was ever mentioned in a Queensland Cup match report was for a game he didn't even play; his mention was instead in early 2004 when he had scored three tries for the Norths Colts Under 19 side in the curtain-raiser.
Excerpts of that report:
Norths has returned to the winner's circle with a 42-16 triumph over Central, but the spotlight shifted to lower grades, where Devils officials lauded the arrival of the "next David Peachey''.
In a departure from the norm however, head coach Gary Greinke nominated the highlight of the day as the effort of 17-year-old colts fullback Greg Inglis.
Inglis scored three tries as the Devils' under-19s beat Runaway Bay 76-10, impressing all with his rangy style.
''He looks and plays like David Peachey and he could very well be just as good,'' Greinke said.
''Greg played for New South Wales Combined Catholic Colleges last year and we've brought him up from down there.
''I dare say he'll get a game in Queensland Cup before the end of the year.''
In 2005, just three games into the season, Inglis had scored seven tries at Intrust Super Cup level to inspire this following report:
He all but makes those around him want to apologise, yet Norths wunderkind Greg Inglis continues to give reason for repetitive praise.
Coach Wayne Treleaven was almost contrite in addressing Inglis's latest heroics – two spectacular tries in a 30-12 win against Ipswich on Sunday.
With the heat taking its toll on the Devils' large forwards and Ipswich gaining the upper hand, Inglis posted two long-range efforts to electrify the Bishop Park crowd.
His efforts helped Norths to a 10-6 halftime lead, from where they went on to steamroll the Jets.
"Pretty much all that kept us in the first 40 minutes of the game were Greg's tries," a subdued Treleaven said.
"It was very hot again and he just about ran 100m on one of those, then 50 for the other. There was a bit of work for him to do in both.
"We were just lucky they (Ipswich) didn't get across the line on a couple of occasions when they could have."
So far, Inglis has scored seven tries in the first three rounds of the Queensland Cup, with an NRL debut surely looming close on the horizon.
Another with a bright future, five-eighth Brent Mulholland arguably posted the pivotal try of the match, scoring just two minutes into the second half.
Making headway, Norths crossed the line three more times to put the game beyond doubt by the 70th minute. North Queensland product Col Wilkie scored a double of his own.
Treleaven said "patience and perseverance" had ultimately won the contest, spoiling Ipswich skipper Danny Coburn's 150th game celebrations.
Prop Jamie McDonald toiled hard in the conditions for Norths, while Ricky Bird, Steele Retchless and Coburn led the way for the Jets.
NORTHS 30 (Greg Inglis 2, Col Wilkie 2, Josh Graham, Brent Mulholland tries; Steve Irwin 3 goals) beat IPSWICH 12 (Andy Poynter, Marcus Jensen tries; Brendon Lindsay 2 goals).
Head to the original QRL.com.au article to read the match report that describes the key hand Inglis played (alongside Cooper Cronk) in defeating Wynnum Manly 28-24 with a 78th minute try (featured in the video below).