Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Peter Sterling is an all-time great in Rugby League but came from humble beginnings, growing up in the south-western New South Wales’ Riverina region after being born in Toowoomba.
He would go to aspiring Rugby League star to prospect to first grade very quickly, as at just 17-years-old Sterling would receive a scholarship to one of the great Rugby League development schools in Fairfield Patrician Brothers in 1978, before making his first-grade debut for the Parramatta Eels later on that year at.
In 1980, Sterling would find himself consistently selected to play in the top grade for Parramatta, with the Eels missing out on the final five by a single point.
However, things would change drastically the very next season, as the now 21-year old would make his State of Origin debut for New South Wales in the representative game’s second-ever fixture and win a premiership with his beloved Eels who defeated the soon to be defunct Newtown Jets 20-11 to win their first-ever title.
Things would only get better for Sterling, as Parramatta would also win the next two Grand Finals, this time against Manly, with the halfback making his debut for Australia in 1982.
At the end of 1983, Sterling would make the move over to the United Kingdom to play for Hull FC during the NSWRL offseason and would remain a part of the mighty black and whites until the end of 1985, playing in that year’s Challenge Cup Final against Brett Kenny’s Wigan Warriors.
From 1986 onwards the Toowoomba born Sterling’s commitments were once again solely with Parramatta and it paid off, as the Eels would win their last Grand Final to date against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 4-2.
Despite Parramatta’s severe decline in form over the coming years, Sterling would remain in the New South Wales and Australia squads until the end of 1988, and would eventually retire from Rugby League entirely in 1992 after failing to recover from a recurring shoulder injury.
He then went on to have a lucrative career as a commentator for Nine’s Wide World of Sports until the end of 2021.
Throughout his career, Sterling earned several individual accolades that reflect just how good he was, as Sterling would be named the Dally M Halfback of the Year on four occasions, the Rugby League Week Player of the Year on three occasions, the Dally M Player of the Year on two occasions, the Rothmans Medallist twice and the Clive Churchill Medallist once.
In 2006, he was inducted into the Australian and International Rugby League Hall of Fames respectively.
Sterling’s accolades and immense talent he put on display consistently during his days in the NSWRL have made him a fan favourite to one day be named an Immortal.
When comparing the 13 current Immortals to Sterling one can’t help but take note of the fact that on his day he was as good as many, if not all of them and deserves to be given the high honour of Immortal status.
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