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Monday, April 15, 2019

How Inglis grew from gifted athlete to Beetson-type leader

Greg Inglis has been compared to Arthur Beetson – and not just because of the freakish skills which made him one of the game’s greatest players.
While Peter O’Sullivan, who recruited Inglis to Melbourne, describes him as the "most gifted athlete" he has seen, the teenager who needed just nine games to win the 2004 Queensland Cup player of the year also developed into a leader during his 15 seasons with the Storm and Rabbitohs.
Inglis was an influential figure in the establishment of the NRL All Stars game and at Indigenous player camps it is noticeable during discussions how much the likes of Braidon Burns and Tyrone Peachey respect him and look to him for guidance.
Not just recently, but since the inception of the Indigenous player camps as part of the NRL’s 2008 Reconciliation Action Plan.
"In respect to all the boys he is the one who has probably had a presence like Artie Beetson or Preston Campbell," NRL Indigenous pathways manager Dean Widders said.
"He doesn’t say much, he sits and listens for a long time and he waits and picks his moment right at the end. It is like all the boy just toe the line with whatever he says and that is what he has earned because of his status in the game, and his power as a person.
"I haven’t seen that since Artie Beetson. Whatever Beetso said, in no matter what room, everyone stopped and listened, and that was always the end of the conversation. No one ever spoke after him and Greg is like that.
"He is up there with Artie Beetson. In our community and among our young boys, there is no bigger compliment you could give anyone."
At South Sydney, Inglis was recognised as a leader long before he took over the captaincy from John Sutton in 2015, with the hosts of a welfare and education program telling officials they had thought he had been dis-engaged – until he spoke to teammates towards the end of the session.
Few players have the same presence as Inglis, who along with Johnathan Thurston helped Campbell to convince NRL clubs to back the All Stars concept in 2010.
After being unable to play in the Aboriginal Dreamtime team which hosted Aotearoa Maori in the curtain-raiser to the opening match of the 2008 World Cup because they were representing Australia in the main event, Inglis and Thurston told Campbell they wanted an opportunity to do so.
Inglis and Thurston spoke at a meeting of NRL club CEOs about why the All Stars match was so important to them before the concept was given the green light.
After joining the Rabbitohs in 2011, Inglis has been heavily involved in community work – promoting messages to the Indigenous community about quitting smoking, eating healthy, being active and staying at school.
The 32-year-old set an example to young players and members of the Indigenous community by becoming the first member of his family to attend university when he enrolled in a business degree at Sydney University.