How Greg Inglis came so close to giving up rugby league for AFL

Greg Inglis
Greg Inglis at Queensland training this week ahead of Origin I. Picture: Adam Head Source: The Courier-Mail
WATCHING Greg Inglis trample NRL rivals, it is difficult to imagine the Queensland strike weapon was once a man who had fallen out of love with rugby league.
Floating about in the centres, Inglis had taken the game for granted. The Storm salary cap scandal in 2010 scorched his soul. Inglis needed a challenge, and suddenly temptation befell him.

How close did he come to walking out on rugby league, leaving behind his Queensland and Australian jumpers? 


"I was going to play AFL for Essendon," Inglis said as he tried on his 2013 Maroons gear for his eighth Origin campaign.

"It wasn't a passing thought. I was serious about it. I sat down and thought hard about it. I just love AFL. Living in Melbourne (at the time), I would watch a live AFL game and I've seen behind the scenes how it all works.


"It was terrific and it excited me."

Inglis was so excited he took his manager Allan Gainey to meet Essendon coach James Hird three times. 

They talked tactics and strategic vision.

Hird believed Inglis could be an AFL superstar. 

Offered a Bombers contract, Inglis' head said "sign it" but his heart would not follow.

"There was no mucking around with James Hird," Inglis said. 

"He was keen. He was fair dinkum about me playing. We had serious meetings.

"It was definitely something I wasn't going to pass up lightly. 

"We didn't get to money or figures, but we had an informal chat about what they wanted to do and how I saw the game. 

GREG INGLIS

Greg Inglis
Greg Inglis alongside fellow Queensland stars Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston. Picture: Adam Head Source: The Courier-Mail
"I met (Hird) three times and we got to know each other pretty well.

"I was off contract and I had the opportunity to look at different clubs and different codes.

"I was about to sign, but in my heart something told me to stay in league. It was my love for the NRL and Origin football that convinced me. 

"I just felt I couldn't turn my back on the game."

Inglis had achieved almost everything in league - grand finals, Tests, Queensland jumpers, a Clive Churchill Medal. 

Yet the former Storm flyer was not satisfied and now believes he has only begun to fulfil his potential in the past two seasons at Souths.

"In my early days, I took things for granted and as I've gotten older, it's kicked in and I've been a bit wiser," Inglis said.

"You go back and read through the articles about me, and you can tell it was showing on the field. 

GREG INGLIS

Greg Inglis
Greg Inglis in action for South Sydney against the Broncos. Picture: Darren England Source: The Courier-Mail
"At the time (he joined Souths in 2011), I wasn't enjoying my footy, but it only took one year to get that back and I've enjoyed it ever since."

His contentment has co-incided with a move to fullback, the position Maroons teammate Cameron Smith identified as Inglis' niche from his teenage years at Melbourne.

"I saw a fair bit of Greggy in Melbourne and I knew what he was capable of doing," Smith said. 

"I am pleased to see his consistency now and the way he is playing high-quality football every week, not putting two or three games together and then having a quiet one. 

"Every week, he seems to have an influence on the result, whether it's his big runs or some goal-line defence or decisions he makes on the field."

Source: The Courier Mail
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