South Grafton Rebels second-rower Ron Hambly.
South Grafton Rebels second-rower Ron Hambly.

Second row full of true grit

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 workhorse second-rowers.

KEN GRAY

The year was 1950 when a Clive Churchill-led Aussie side won back the Ashes from Great Britain for the first time in 30 years.

In a lead-up game to the First Test South Grafton star back-rower Ken Gray, playing for North Coast, proved the Poms were far from invincible scoring a try, and humbling arguably the best defensive set of forwards in the world.

In a distinguished career, Gray represented Country Firsts, North Coast and was a member of the South Grafton 1948-49 premiership-winning sides.

RON HAMBLY

In a game of last man standing, Ron Hambly would be favourite. With more than 200-games for his beloved Rebels Hambly played on raw emotion and was the cornerstone of the Rebels pack for close to a decade.

When it came to hard-nosed bush footballers they didn't come much harder than Ron Hambly.

GARY "WIFFY" DAVIS

A noted defender with plenty of whacking power, Davis started his first grade career with the Rebels in 1974 and a year later helped guide them to a premiership.

A Group One representative, "Whiffy" was a gifted back-rower who loved a challenge. The bigger the game the better he performed.

JOHN "JACKO" O'DONOHUE

Another member of the successful 1975 side and Davis's partner in crime, O'Donohue's defence would squeeze the life out of opposition packs.

tough, uncompromising back-rower, "Jacko" later moved to Newcastle where he displayed the same fearless attitude on the paddock for Wests and Waratah-Mayfield.

BRUCE McLENNAN

A South Grafton junior in 1937, "Booyong" McLennan was a text-book second-rower who valued possession of the football. Another player whose career was interrupted by World War II, McLennan spent several seasons in Sydney turning out for St George and Western Suburbs.

Upon returning home to Grafton, McLennan gained selection in the North Coast team to play the 1946 Great Britain touring side at the Grafton Showground.

FRANK "JUMBO" WHITE

If you were to look up the word "toughness" in the dictionary you'd find a picture of Frank White.

"Jumbo" was a towering back-rower who never took a backward step. A former Northern Division player, White picked up South Grafton's best and fairest award twice and was instrumental in their 1972 and '75 premiership winning sides.

Other players to shine in the back-row and make an impact on the field were Athol Layton, Don Graham, Jack Cowan, Gary Maquire, Shane Waterhouse and Jason Hebbard.



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