Matt McKee is a strong contender to be named as the lock in the South Grafton Rebels Team of the Century.
Matt McKee is a strong contender to be named as the lock in the South Grafton Rebels Team of the Century.

Locked and loaded for toughness

SOUTH Grafton Rugby League Club will name its Team of the Century as part of the club's 100th anniversary celebrations in 2014.

GARY NICHOLS has run a fine-toothed comb through the club's history and come up with a comprehensive list of the greatest players ever to wear the red-and-white jersey.

This week the focus moves to the back of the scrum.

NOEL BUTTERS

Former Radio 2GF commentator Jack Burgess coined the name "Hat-rack" for this legendary South Grafton forward. "Defenders used to hang off him like hats hanging from a hat-rack," Burgess said when describing Butters' raw strength carrying the football.

With a career spanning from 1954-64, Butters was a member of South Grafton's premiership-winning sides in 1959 and 1961. The complete footballer, Butters was equally at home playing second-row or centre.

MATT McKEE

A nuggetty back-rower who could slot into half or five-eighth with ease, McKee was a creative player with an impressive bag of tricks.

In 1991 McKee was selected in the Australian Schoolboys side, although a serious neck injury sustained on tour hindered his playing career for several seasons.

Under coach Lindsay Johnson, McKee was recruited by the Rebels in 1995 with first grade going down to Byron Bay in the decider.

PAUL DANVERS

Played his heart out for the Rebels from 1979 until his retirement in 1990. One of the best defenders South Grafton has produced. Sacrificing glamour for grind, Danvers is definitely somebody you would want alongside you in the trenches.

In 1987, Danvers gained selection in the Northern Rivers Division side that won the Country Championships.

BILL TOCHER

A 1915 original, Tocher returned to South Grafton after World War II where his hallmark bustling defence caused havoc until his retirement in 1926.

Tocher gained the nickname "Offside" for his in-your-face defence that cut down many attacking raids by opposition backs.

He represented the Clarence League on several occasions and, while on active service, Tocher represented the AIF in rugby union.

MARK EGGINS

A devastating runner of the football, Eggins was the "Dave Taylor" of the 1970s. Topping the scales at close to 100kg, Eggins had the pace of an outside back and could step off either foot, creating nightmares for opposition defenders.

A gifted ball player later in his career, Eggins played in three first grade grand finals, winning in 1972 and 1975. If one guy should have gone on to try his hand in the big smoke it was Eggins. He certainly would have made the cut.

With so many top-class back-rowers to choose from selectors will have a tough job naming their lock-forward of the century. Although from different eras, players of the calibre of Jack Cordwell, Frank "Bumper" Sullivan, Steve Martin, Rick King and Jim McPherson can all make claim for a spot in the final 17.



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