Bush Rugby League Stars Who Made It Big

Image: Country boys Brian Carlson (left) and Rex Wright , with Country Vs City logo.

The death of the City-Country concept will end a long line of rugby league stars who made their name while representing the bush-based side.

Eight Bush Stars Who Made Their Name in the Country Jersey

Brian Carlson

Represented both NSW and Australia in the same year he made his Country debut, while still playing in the Newcastle competition in 1952. A talented winger, he scored 29 tries in 19 matches for the Kangaroos on that year’s tour of England before eventually signing with North Sydney in 1957.

Rex Wright

After hooker Paul Field repeated Duke’s selection feat in 1983, Rex Wright became the last player to represent NSW in Origin straight out of the Country Side in 1984. Originally from North Newcastle, the selection helped earn him a spot at North Sydney the following year, where he played until his retirement in 1987.

Don’t forget prior to the City Country clash the North Sydney Bears Cheyne Whitelaw & Tautalatasi Tasi are part of the New South Wales Residents side to take on The Queensland Residents, live on Channel Nine, Sunday 7th May 1:30 pm – Cheyne Whitelaw & Tautalatasi Tasi Named in NSW Residents Squad.

Michael Cronin

Played for NSW and Australia off the back of his Country debut in 1973, but opted to stick with Gerringong over the big money on offer in the city until he joined Parramatta in 1978. Regarded as one of the greats of rugby league, the centre scored one try and kicked five goals in Country’s shock 1975 defeat of City their last in the non-Origin version of the match.

Steve Morris

Will go down as the last player to represent Australia without having played a first-grade game. The Dapto product starred for Country in 1978 and went on to play for NSW and Australia that year. He signed with St George the following season and went on to score 122 tries in the Red V.

Brian Hambly

Failed to crack first grade at South Sydney before a pay dispute sent him to Wagga Wagga, where he debuted for Country in 1959. Scored their only try from the second row in the 37-7 loss to City, and was rewarded with NSW and Australian selection for the next five years while also emerging as one of Parramatta’s best.

Ian Walsh

Starred in the state’s central west with Eugowra before he won five premierships with St George – including one as captain-coach. The tough hooker made his debut for Country in 1958 and made his debut for NSW and Australia the following year, before eventually heading to the big smoke.

The North Sydney Bears next match is the big one! The Bears and the Newtown Jets will battle it out for the 2017 Frank Hyde Shield at North Sydney Oval Sunday 14th May.

Eric Weissel

Benefited from the first of the set-in-stone annual City-Country matches in 1928 when he captained the boys from the bush to a 35-34 win. His talent at No.6 was immediately recognisable, picked in that season’s Ashes series for Australia. Never left the Riverina but went on to play eight Tests in an international career that spanned four seasons.

Wally Prigg

Remains the only player to have gone from representing Country to captaining Australia after assuming the Kangaroos’ Test leadership in 1937. One of the greatest locks of league’s early years, Prigg played out his entire career in Newcastle and never joined the top-flight Sydney competition.

Phillip Duke

Became the first player to be picked for NSW in Origin out of Country football in 1982. After impressing in Country’s 47-3 loss to City earlier that season, Duke was picked on the wing for the Origin decider. However after scoring in the first half, he was involved an in-goal intercept which gifted Queensland the series-winning try, and he never played Origin again.

Source: AAP via www.sbs.com.au