FORMER Australia coach Tim Sheens has paid tribute to the “fabulous” Greg Inglis and spoken of the “legacy” he will leave as a player.
Ex-Kangaroos captain Inglis, 32, has announced his shock retirement with immediate effect, the South Sydney skipper standing down after being dogged by injuries at the start of this season and fully 18 months before he was due to call it a day.
The Queensland State of Origin legend, who won the Golden Boot as the world’s best player in 2009, will be remembered as one of the finest talents of the modern game with his brilliantly destructive running quality, power, strength and poise.
Hull KR chief Sheens knows him well having handed ‘GI’ the majority of his 39 Test caps when he was in charge of the Kangaroos between 2009 and 2015.
Former Melbourne Storm star Inglis played centre in the 2013 World Cup final win at Old Trafford and Sheens said: “It’s quite a surprise (he’s retired).
“It sort of shows as a football player you sometimes think you’re bullet-proof and you’ll play forever and then all of a sudden it finishes for you.
“I was mainly involved with Greg with rep’ footy and the Australia side.
“He certainly put sides I’ve coached to the sword a few times on his own.
“He’s that sort of player; a real game-changer, a fabulous athlete and he leaves a great legacy from the point of view of his football. I wish him the best.”
Inglis scored 31 tries in those 39 Tests but was similarly prolific for the dominant Maroons, crossing a record 18 times in 32 State of Origin games.
Such was his sheer footballing talent, he could play centre, full-back and stand-off at the elite level, though Sheens knows which position he feels he excelled in the most.
“I think at his best full-back,” he said, about one of the sport's most thrilling attackers.
“I didn’t use him as a five-eighth but he had the skills and that’s why he did make a good full-back as well.
“He’s a big man who can push you off and use his power and speed but had the skill level to throw a decent pass when he had to make a decision.
“Today’s full-back has to be able to do that and he was well and truly skillful at that type of play.
“I think full-back was his best spot but he certainly made a great fist of centre whenever (Billy) Slater was playing full-back and for Queensland and his club.
“He’s played in both positions and good footballers can tend to do that.”