New Zealand rugby league greats Ruben Wiki and Stacey Jones have tonight been revealed as two of the four players to join the NRL Hall of Fame in a formal induction ceremony in Sydney on Wednesday night.
In a momentous night for the game in New Zealand, they will be inducted alongside Australians Danny Buderus and Craig Young, joining 106 players previously honoured for their achievements across the competition's 111-year history.
The Kiwi legends were among last year's nominees when Kiwi legend and New Zealand player of the century Mark Graham (the first Kiwi included) was inducted along with Petero Civoniceva, Cliff Lyons, Steve Menzies, Ricky Stuart and Gorden Tallis.
And they were again included in a list of 25 nominees announced last week for this year's intake.
Wiki (46) and Jones (43) were long-time Kiwi teammates throughout their careers, Wiki playing a then-world record 55 Tests from 1994 to 2006 while Jones made 46 Test appearances from 1995-2006; they also both captained the Kiwis.
Wiki became the first New Zealander to play 300 NRL games, finishing with a total of 311 appearances including 224 for Canberra and 87 for the Vodafone Warriors.
Jones played his entire NRL career with the Vodafone Warriors, making a club record 261 appearances (until Simon Mannering went ahead of him).
Wiki and Jones have both worked extensively for the Vodafone Warriors since their playing careers ended, Wiki as a strength and conditioning coach and Jones in a number of coaching positions (he's now an NRL assistant coach).
They were both named in the New Zealand Rugby League's Team of the Century and have both been included in the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.
A voting college representing a cross section of the game - scroll down to see college members - selected their top five players to be included in the exclusive Hall of Fame club. The four players were selected through an independent audit of the votes.
NRL Chief Executive Todd Greenberg said the four inductees were all worthy recipients of the honour.
“All four of our player inductees will stand proudly alongside the 106 players who they will join in the Hall of Fame,” Greenberg said.
“These are some of the best players of their generations, and they will now join the best of the best.
“They each dominated their respective eras and commanded enormous respect. They still do.
“This year’s Hall of Fame class is an exceptional one. We will be recognising greatness when our latest class are formally inducted.”
Senior manager of NRL awards Frank Puletua said the induction ceremony would be one of the most important nights on the calendar.
“This year, we will be acknowledging our contributors as well as our players,” Puletua said.
“The Hall of Fame induction has become an incredibly important night for the game as we take the opportunity to reflect on our pioneers and our finest players.
“All four of our player inductees can now forever be known as Hall of Famers, and that only adds to their standing in the game.”
The NRL Hall of Fame was established in 2018 in celebration of the competition's 100th anniversary. To mark the milestone, 100 players were inducted, the No 1 inductee being back rower Billy Cann, who played for Australia, New South Wales and South Sydney from 1908-1916, while modern day great Darren Lockyer was No 100.
Three contributors – one each from administration, broadcast media and print media – will be announced tomorrow ahead of the formal induction.
For more information on the NRL Hall of Fame and Immortals, please visit nrl.com/hall-of-fame/
HALL OF FAME 2019
Born: February 6, 1978, Taree, NSW
Junior Football: Taree United
Club: Newcastle Knights
Premiership Career 1997-2013: Newcastle Knights: Played 257. Points 246 (61 tries, 1 goal).
First Grade Debut: Newcastle v South Queensland at Marathon Stadium, 23/3/1997 (Rd 3)
Grand Finals: 1 – Newcastle 2001 (W)
Rep Career: Australia: Tests 24 (2001-06), Kangaroo tours 2001, 2003; Tri-Nations 2004, 2005. New South Wales: State of Origins 21 (2002-08). Country Origin: 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008
Born: May 7, 1976, Auckland, NZ
Junior Football: Point Chevalier
Club: Vodafone Warriors
Premiership Career 1995-2009: Vodafone Warriors: Played 261. Points 674 (77 tries, 176 goals, 14 field goals). Super League 2006-2007: Les Catalans: Played 45 games.
First Grade Debut: Warriors v Parramatta at Parramatta Stadium, 23/4/1995 (Rd 7)
Grand Finals: 1 – Warriors 2002 c (L)
Rep Career: New Zealand: Tests 46 (1995-2006), World Cups 1995, 2000, Tri-Nations 1999, 2005, 2006; Captained Kiwis in seven Tests
Born: January 21, 1973, Auckland, NZ
Junior Football: Otara Scorpions
Clubs: Canberra Raiders, Vodafone Warriors
Position: Centre/Second Row/Prop
Premiership Career 1993-2008: Played 311. Points 288 (72 tries). Canberra 1993-2004: Played 224. Points 240 (60 tries). Vodafone Warriors: Played 87. Points 48 (12 tries).
First Grade Debut: Canberra v Souths at Bruce Stadium, 13/6/1993 (Rd 11)
Grand Finals: 1 – Canberra 1994 (W)
Rep Career: New Zealand: Tests 55 (1994-2006), Tri-Nations 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006; Captained the Kiwis in 18 Tests; World Cups 1995, 2000
Born: June 25, 1956, Wollongong, NSW
Junior Football: Thirroul/Corrimal
Club: St George
Premiership Career 1977-88: Played 234. Points 42 (11 tries, 2 field goals).
First Grade Debut: St George v Penrith at Kogarah Jubilee Oval, 20/3/1977 (Rd 1)
Grand Finals: 3 – St George 1977 (D), 1977R (W), 1979 c (W)
Rep Career: Australia: Tests 20 (1978-84); Kangaroo tours 1978, 1982. New South Wales: Interstate matches 5 (1979-81). Matches v touring international teams 1 (1977). State of Origins 5 (1980-84).
NRL HALL OF FAME | VOTING COLLEGE
Andrew Ettingshausen, Petero Civoniceva, Darren Lockyer, Steve Roach, Shane Webcke, Peter Sterling, Steve Walters, Laurie Daley, Ricky Stuart, Eric Grothe, Ian Heads, Adam Pengilly, Yvonne Sampson, Gary Lester, John Coffey, Steve Ricketts, Geoff Armstrong, Deborah Spillane, David Middleton, Tas Baitieri, Phil Pellizzeri, Neil Cadigan, Tony Durkin, Greg Shannon.