Broncos best missed the 'King' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Broncos best missed the 'King'

By Laine Clark and Wayne Heming 09/05/2007 08:16:35 PM Comments (0)

Naming the Brisbane Broncos' greatest team will no doubt cause endless debate.

But there was something no one would argue when a rugby league who's who gathered in Brisbane to celebrate the club's 20th anniversary - Wally Lewis was the king.

There were no shortage of Broncos stars at a gala luncheon that unveiled Brisbane's 20-strong all-time greatest team and a people's choice top 13 that will be the source of lively bar banter.

However, it was the only player who did not attend that dominated conversation - the Emperor of Lang Park, Lewis.

"It is hard to single out just one but there is probably only one king isn't there - and he is not here unfortunately," former Brisbane skipper and member of the 20-strong greatest Kevin Walters said.

Still recovering from brain surgery to alleviate epilepsy, Lewis may have been missing but he was there in spirit.

Five of the Broncos' six captains were present - Darren Lockyer, Gene Miles, Allan Langer, Gorden Tallis and Walters.

And each one officially ordained Lewis - the Broncos' inaugural skipper - as Brisbane's best.

"He's the reason why the club is what it is. And if you ask Geno (Miles) he only signed because Wally signed," Tallis said.

"If they didn't get Wally Lewis' signature, the Broncos wouldn't be here.

"As a kid growing up Gene Miles and Wally Lewis were my heroes, that will never change."

He may have only played 50 games for Brisbane but Lewis was not only top of the list of the 20 best but also featured at pivot in the people's choice 13 - ensuring 271-game premiership winning half Kevin Walters missed out.

"Wally is the king. When you watch him play State of Origin there was no better player," Tallis said.

Miles said Lewis was "desperate" to attend the function.

"We did our best to get him here, but unfortunately it (his recovery) is going to take a bit longer than we first thought," he said.

Langer added: "It is going to be a couple of years they say. It's a slow process so fingers crossed he gets a lot better over the next year."

Walters dipped his hat to the winning culture Lewis helped create at the club which has won six titles since their 1988 debut.

The luncheon celebrated 20 years since the Broncos name was registered in 1987.

"I don't think the Broncos would be what they are today without Geno, Wally, Greg Conescu and Alfie - they were heroes to the younger generation and they still are now," Walters said.

"Without their influence I don't think the Broncos would be the organisation they are today."

Lockyer agreed.

"I played with Gordie, Kev and Alf. I never got to play with Geno or Wally," he said.

"They have done a lot for this organisation and the culture that they left when they retired has remained there and it is something I want to keep going."

Five current players were named in the 20-strong greatest team - Lockyer, Petero Civoniceva, Shaun Berrigan, Brad Thorn and Tonie Carroll.

Among the big names who failed to make the 20-strong team were winger Willie Carne, matchwinner Lote Tuqiri and hard hitting backrower Trevor Gillmeister.

However, Gillmeister - known as The Axe - did feature in the 13-strong people's choice team.

Disgraced winger Wendell Sailor - currently suspended from rugby for drug use - made both teams.

Since the Broncos debut in 1988, the team has featured 152 graded players.

After the teams were named an oil painting of the 20 greatest players by Jamie Cooper was auctioned for $37,000.

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