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World Cup icons: John Eales

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Roar Guru
5th March, 2019
15

John Eales personifies all the values that make up Australian rugby scripture.

He had all the attributes coaches could want in a player and, later in his career, as a captain.

He had leadership, athleticism, was a one-club man, beat the All Blacks more than he lost to them, claimed two Rugby World Cups, and his goal-kicking accuracy was a lock.

He is first and a foremost a Queenslander, having donned a red jersey in over 100 games. While success was hard to come by at provincial level, he more than made up for it playing for Australia.

Part of the 1991 team that won the World Cup, that early taste of success spurred him on to forge his own chapter as captain in 1999.

He credits that early win as a minor blueprint of how to win rugby’s grandest showpiece, learning under the tutelage of the legendary captain Nick Farr-Jones in handling pressure moments.

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His team in ’99 also had it all – world-class and experienced, battle-hardened players in every position – which is a must to have any chance of tasting beer out of the Cup.

A robust and dominant tight five meant their devastating backline was receiving front-foot ball, and more often than not putting points on their opponent.

Their style of play was streetwise, enterprising, incisive and uniquely Australian – a far cry from today’s current team.

Eales majored in psychology at university, which gives us an insight in to what made him such a superb leader. His ability to get the best out of his team corresponds in his dealings with each member separately, owing to different personalities. He got the best out of all his players and thus the team exceeded as a collective.

He captained the Wallabies in 55 Tests, a golden era for Australian rugby, in which the Bledisloe Cup was more equally shared by New Zealand and Australia.

He is etched into folklore for his dramatic, last-minute penalty goal to beat the Kiwis in New Zealand to win back the Bledisloe in 1998.

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He rates the current crop for the World Cup behind the curve as to where they would want to be, however he also believes the All Blacks are out on their own and any of the top nations has the ability to beat the other on any given day.

Thus, Eales reckons, on the day, Australia can beat anybody.

The old adage goes ‘nobody’s perfect’, so ‘Nobody’ was an apt nickname for Australia’s most successful rugby player – and the world’s best kicking lock.

What Aussie fans would give to have a player and leader of his calibre on the plane to Tokyo.

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