Snubbed judge Geoff Prenter claims Immortals conspiracy
FOUNDING editor of Rugby League Week Geoff Prenter has accused the NRL of conspiring to keep Norm Provan from becoming an Immortal.
The sensational claim comes after Prenter, Ray Hadley, Phil Rothfield and Alan Jones were dumped as judges for the upcoming induction of the ninth and 10th Immortals.
"I would've voted for Norm Provan!" Prenter told Fox Sports. "I voted for him last time when Andrew Johns got on... that's maybe why they dumped me."
"I'm a Provan fan, I would've voted for Provan this time... that could be the conspiracy.
"Maybe they realise there's a Provan bloc there and they don't want it."
Prenter, who has been a judge since his magazine started the Immortals concept in 1981, could only speculate because he wasn't even told of his axing.
"I haven't had any communication from them at all," he said. "I see Buzz (Rothfield) said there was a dinner on, well I didn't even know there was a dinner on.
"They're not the world's best communicators, I would suggest. I think they're found wanting when it comes to communicating with people, people that have given the game so much, so much of their life ... sacrificed so much."
Prenter said it was a slap in the face after all he had done for the game.
"I gave the game its very own paper. No sport in the world has its very own paper," he said.
"I negotiated the first ever sponsorship in Australian sport. Yes, it was rugby league but it was the first ever, first ever! Is that a contribution?
"I convinced Canterbury they should change their name from the Berries to Bulldogs, which they eventually did. Is that a contribution?
"When I look at the panel of the judges I can't see too many contributions any of them have made towards the welfare of the game.
"I've forgotten more about rugby league than many of them will ever know!"
Provan has been overlooked on four occasions, and many see this as his last chance to join the most exclusive club in rugby league.
"He won 10 premierships, four as captain-coach. No one has ever done that, no one ever will do that," Prenter said of Provan.
"Great player, great leader of men, great inspiration. Led by example all the time. He was admired and respected by all the players that played with him.
"You ask the late Graeme Langlands, you ask Johnny Raper, you ask the late Reg Gasnier who the best player was they played with and they'd all say straight away Norm Provan.
"I used to ghost write him in the Sun newspaper. I wrote his column every week. He was good value, good fun, had a sense of humour.
"Good man, good style of a bloke - probably too much of a gentleman to have played rugby league but that was his lot in life and he did well with it."
The judging panel now includes Ray Warren, Phil Gould, Ian Heads, Bob Fulton, Steve Crawley, Andrew Johns, Wally Lewis and, interestingly, NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg.
The next Immortals will be named on Wednesday night, with the shortlist comprising Dally Messenger, Frank Burge, Dave Brown, Brian Bevan, Duncan Hall, Ken Irvine, Norm Provan, Ron Coote, Mal Meninga and Darren Lockyer.
The NRL would not comment.