Sheek’s best Kangaroos team (1967-present)

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    I first came across the Kangaroos rugby league team late in 1967. Having just arrived in Australia for our biannual holidays from our home of Papua New Guinea, I looked forward to cramming as much TV into three months as I possibly could.

    Pretty early in the holiday (early November) cricket and rugby league appeared on my radar for the first time.

    The 1967-68 Kangaroos had Reg Gasnier as captain-coach. Gasnier, or ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’, was one of the greatest ever rugby league players.

    After playing in the first Test, a recurring knee injury kept him out of the remaining five internationals against Great Britain and France. By the time he returned for a midweek game in France, he realised his career was over at the age of just 28.

    As with Bobby Simpson in cricket, I don’t remember much of him first-hand, and I take his selection mostly on trust, because he did appear in my time, if ever so briefly.

    Others to end their Test careers in 1967-68 were Johnny Raper, Ken Irvine and Noel Kelly, although I continued to see them play over the next three to six years.

    Sheek’s first Kangaroos 13 (1967-present)
    Graeme Langlands, Ken Irvine, Reg Gasnier, Mal Meninga, Greg Inglis, Wally Lewis (vc), Andrew Johns, Noel Kelly, Cameron Smith, Arthur Beetson (c), Bob McCarthy, Ron Coote, Johnny Raper.

    For the state conscious, the split is NSW 7-6 Queensland.

    The NSW men are Langlands, Irvine, Gasnier, Johns, McCarthy, Coote and Raper, while the Queenslanders are Meninga, Inglis, Lewis, Kelly, Smith and Beetson. Ten of this team captained the Kangaroos, while all were or are club captains.

    I know that today’s players are bigger, stronger and inherently faster than those of yesteryear. But the comparison is always about how each player dominated in his own time, and the influence he exerted.

    That is the ultimate comparison.

    As good as Inglis is, I’m happy for ‘Changa’ Langlands to be my fullback, with GI on the wing.

    The hooking role has changed enormously in regards to the scrum. However, hookers can still be compared across the ages according to their play from dummy-half and in general. In this regard, Smith is unmatched.

    I am 100 per cent happy and comfortable with every first team selection.

    Sheek’s second Kangaroos 13 (1967-present)
    Darren Lockyer, Andrew Ettingshausen, Laurie Daley, Brad Fittler, Kerry Boustead, Bob Fulton (c), Johnathan Thurston, Craig Young (vc), Danny Buderus, Glenn Lazarus, Paul Sironen, Bob Lindner, Ray Price.

    The state split is NSW 9-4 Queensland.

    While I have no problems with my firsts, there were plenty of 50-50 calls with my seconds. Lockyer, ET, Boustead, Fulton, Thurston, Buderus and the backrow are all locked in. But I concede the centres and props caused me plenty of grief, and there might be better alternatives if someone can convince me.

    Mick Cronin, Steve Rogers, Brett Kenny and Gene Miles will have their cornermen in the centres, while alternate selections at prop are many – Shane Webcke, Petero Civoniceva, Paul Harragon, Steve Roach, Greg Dowling, Bob O’Reilly, John O’Neill and John Sattler.

    Enjoy the debate, Roarers!

    A former rugby lock, cricket no.11 bat and no.10 bowler, and surfboat rower. A fan of the major team sports in Australia.

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    The Crowd Says (81)

    • February 18th 2015 @ 4:22am
      fiddlesticks said | February 18th 2015 @ 4:22am | ! Report

      interesting teams there Sheek- i don’t think you need to reveal the NSW- QLD split, its not important to the debate

      • Roar Guru

        February 18th 2015 @ 9:52am
        sheek said | February 18th 2015 @ 9:52am | ! Report

        True enough.

    • February 18th 2015 @ 7:23am
      Jason Hosken said | February 18th 2015 @ 7:23am | ! Report

      Sheek!!!! No Guru, easily the best winger after Irvine. At the very least i’d have him replace ET in your EMU’s team.

      • Roar Guru

        February 18th 2015 @ 1:45pm
        sheek said | February 18th 2015 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

        Hi Jason,

        As I explained to Johnno, Grothe appeared in less than 10 tests & less than 10 origins.

        Consequently, I have to go with others whom played more often at the higher level.

        • Roar Guru

          February 18th 2015 @ 1:56pm
          Jason Hosken said | February 18th 2015 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

          Nothing wrong with that Sheek – after all, they are your teams.

          I’ll put something together on the Guru…maybe even add some old bearded footy cards to boot.

          Cheers, Jason

    • Columnist

      February 18th 2015 @ 8:32am
      Geoff Parkes said | February 18th 2015 @ 8:32am | ! Report

      Hi Sheek, what a great list of players, all of them worthy in their own right.
      Not saying they should make either side, but I’d also be giving a mention to Sterling, Grothe, Vautin and Steve Price.

      Who would you have as ref? Gommersall, Stone, McCallum or Harrigan?

      • February 18th 2015 @ 9:13am
        nerval said | February 18th 2015 @ 9:13am | ! Report

        Paul Vautin as one of the great players of the modern era? Ahead of Gorden “Raging Bull” Tallis? Surely not…

      • Roar Guru

        February 18th 2015 @ 9:49am
        peeeko said | February 18th 2015 @ 9:49am | ! Report

        i would dispute Vautin but definitely agree on Grothe

      • Roar Guru

        February 18th 2015 @ 9:53am
        sheek said | February 18th 2015 @ 9:53am | ! Report

        Hi Allanthus,

        Harrigan I reckon.

        • Columnist

          February 18th 2015 @ 10:22am
          Geoff Parkes said | February 18th 2015 @ 10:22am | ! Report

          He’d think so too.

          But the Grasshopper would be more fun.

          • Roar Guru

            February 18th 2015 @ 12:24pm
            sheek said | February 18th 2015 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

            True, very true – on both counts!

    • February 18th 2015 @ 8:44am
      MontyS said | February 18th 2015 @ 8:44am | ! Report

      You’re gonna have to find room for Peter Sterling, Brett Kenny and the marvelous Eric Grothe Snr. who scored a try in every test he played. Beat France almost single handedly in the second test on the ’82 tour. I dream of Eric and Mal coming back as young men, switching codes, playing for the 2015 Wallabies and destroying everybody in their path. Sterlo was the best tackler I ever saw – didn’t matter how big the ball runner was.

    • Roar Rookie

      February 18th 2015 @ 8:52am
      Squidward said | February 18th 2015 @ 8:52am | ! Report

      I’m too young. So I think I can only go back 90s and footage from 80s origins

      1. Locky
      2. ET
      3. Renouf
      4. Daley
      5. Inglis
      6. Thurston
      7. Joey

      8. Chief
      9. Smith
      10. Lazo
      11. Gal
      12. Clyde
      13. Freddy

      Sorry Mal and wally. And the half dozen I’m going to be reminded of that ive forgotten in my quick list.

      • Roar Guru

        February 18th 2015 @ 9:53am
        sheek said | February 18th 2015 @ 9:53am | ! Report


        No Mal or Wally? Are you rewriting history?

        • Roar Rookie

          February 18th 2015 @ 12:16pm
          Squidward said | February 18th 2015 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

          I feel bad for rewriting history

          But I can only remember the 93-94 Mal
          And videos of wally only

          And from just that I marvel at renouf, JT and Daley more. Actually laurie and Mal are a bee’s willy. Maybe I prob should’ve gone Mal

          • Roar Guru

            February 18th 2015 @ 12:25pm
            sheek said | February 18th 2015 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

            Understood Squid,

            As long as you clarify your time-frame, you can be excused.

    • February 18th 2015 @ 9:24am
      nerval said | February 18th 2015 @ 9:24am | ! Report

      Bill Slater is a better all round full-back than the marvellous Lockyer for the 2nd X111.

      It’s a truly great 1st X111. I’d have Brett Kenny over both Fulton and Lewis but I know that will get nowhere with Sheek! Eric “Guru” Grothe was a primeval force out on the wing so Ken Irvine must have been very special indeed to keep him out. Either way, Grothe has to be ahead of the talented, but slightly over-rated ET – although Boustead was electric. Two more queries: I don’t know about Noel Kelly as I never saw him play, but Webcke and Lazarus were indestructible; Cameron Smith at hooker also puzzles me – I prefer the craft and devil of a Benny Elias myself.

      • Roar Guru

        February 18th 2015 @ 9:40am
        Renegade said | February 18th 2015 @ 9:40am | ! Report

        Yeah agree, can’t believe Slater has been left out and I think that is probably the only real major miss in Sheek’s list.

        Slater should be fullback in that second XIII if not the first.

        I’d move Lokcyer to five-eighth, Fulton to Centre and Fittler to Lock….. Sironen misses out as I believe Sheek is being extremely generous to him by even putting him there before the likes of Gallen, Clyde, Tallis, Kennedy, etc, etc.

        • Roar Guru

          February 18th 2015 @ 1:46pm
          sheek said | February 18th 2015 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

          Yeah, maybe I’m being too kind on Siro.

      • Roar Guru

        February 18th 2015 @ 9:54am
        sheek said | February 18th 2015 @ 9:54am | ! Report

        Kenny wasn’t better than either Wally or Bozo.

        • February 18th 2015 @ 1:50pm
          Parrafan said | February 18th 2015 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

          I respectfully disagree. Kenny’s head to head record against Wally at origin level is vastly superior.
          I know that the division of NSWRL and QRL at the time makes club comparisons difficult but four premierships does say something (and a double try in three consecutive Grandfinals!). In my opinion Kenny was better week in week out in the NSWRL comp which was a higher grade comp than the QRL comp. (I know Wally played in NSWRL, and had a great first season but that arm injury really cruelled things for him)
          He also kept Lewis out of the 82 touring side but granted moved to centre to accommodate Lewis after that. (my opinion is because Kenny was so much more versatile as a player).
          Kenny was such a good tackler that he was able to move to lock. (although I guess Wally had to move there when playing for Broncos but for different reasons)
          I think Kenny is one of the most underrated footballers. Check out his try in 82 grand final. Absolutely brilliant.
          Having said that I probably biased.

          • February 18th 2015 @ 2:47pm
            Happy Feet said | February 18th 2015 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

            “Having said that I’m probably biased”

            At least you got that right 😉

            • February 18th 2015 @ 3:27pm
              Parrafan said | February 18th 2015 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

              I’ll add to that. Kenny’s moustache was better as well.

      • February 18th 2015 @ 11:09am
        JP said | February 18th 2015 @ 11:09am | ! Report

        Even Steve Walters and Conescu were better hookers than Benny Elias.

        • February 18th 2015 @ 5:47pm
          Maroon Blood said | February 18th 2015 @ 5:47pm | ! Report

          100% Boxhead Walters was head and shoulders above Elias who was pretty much a one trick (dummy show and go) pony and an extremely selfish player.
          However, Turtle Conescu, whilst a solid, dependable hooker at club and Origin level is a distant third to the other two.
          Personally, I would also have Gene Miles ahead of Meninga just for his performances on the 86 Kangaroo Tour where he and Kenny made one of the best centre combinations……….ever!