For rugby league fans who fondly remember the late-1980s and early-1990s, Tina Turner was just as much a part of the game as Mal Meninga, Ben Elias, Andrew Ettingshausen and Alfie Langer.
In one of the great marketing coups in the history of Australian sports, the NSWRL acquired American R&B queen-turned-rock goddess Turner to promote the premiership.
Turner’s massive hits ‘What You Get is What You See’ and ‘The Best’ were used as the game’s anthems – complete with flashy videos featuring Turner and a bevy of Rugby League stars – and were incredibly well-received, attracting new and wider audiences.
Here’s the original promo video that took the game by storm in 1989.
The slogan ‘Simply the Best’ later became synonymous with the Winfield Cup, while a re-recorded duet of ‘The Best’ by Turner and Jimmy Barnes was subsequently used as the theme song in 1992-93. Turner performed at the 1993 Grand Final, celebrating with the victorious Broncos on the field post-match.
The song was used for the last time ahead of the revamped 20-team competition in 1995.
Subsequent attempts by the NRL to replicate Tina Turner’s impact with the likes of Tom Jones and Bon Jovi fell pathetically flat.