One gets the clear impression that the Melbourne Storm’s Greg Inglis is a remarkably level-headed 19-year-old – and after today’s headlines he will surely need to be.

Not that long ago I was complaining that Andrew Johns was being named the “best ever” rugby league player, and now today Johns himself has told the Daily Telegraph that Inglis could become the best ever to lace on a boot.

Give me a break! No, actually, give Greg Inglis a break. How can you possibly state that a 19-year-old who has played just over 30 first grade games, never made a Test team (though that will change next week), and has some worrying injuries is in the top two or three players today, and destined to be the best ever?

Of course he is a talented player, with some remarkable skills, and real potential to be a long term Test, origin and first grade player. And he might yet end up becoming a legend of the game. But why do current and former players have to rush to make comparisons that are irrelevant and largely nonsensical?

It’s an interesting contrast with the media’s apparent shyness when it comes to coverage of the NRL’s annual Ken Stephen Award. Each year the NRL Board uses the grand final breakfast to present this award to the player who is judged to have made the best contribution to the community, as well as on-field performances.

This year’s award has gone to the Manly Sea Eagles’ Michael Monagham – for exceptional service to assisting the mentally and physically disabled children at Arranounbai School in Sydney.

Apart from working directly with disabled children in his spare time, he and his Sea Eagles team mates have raised $35,000 towards purchasing a bus for the children – and are raising a further $20,000 which the Macquarie Bank will match dollar for dollar to give the school the $110,000 state-of-the-art bus it needs.

It’s an award well deserved – and which merits more attention than it will probably get.

Peter Fray

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