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Rugby league history: The all-time great alphabet teams – Letter D

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Roar Guru
15th March, 2019

Of all the all-time great alphabet team, Team D was a surprisingly hard to fill, but with a creative backline full of five-eighths and with a tough pack, they might cause some problems.

1. Josh Dugan

Years active: 2009 to present.
Clubs: Canberra, St George Illawarra, Cronulla.
Club games (to 2018): 169 (61 tries, 24 goals, 1 field goal).
Representative career: Tests: 12; NSW: 12.
Nickname: Duges.

Okay, so it’s a slight contrast compared to the fullback for Team C, but Dugan has been an accomplished fullback and centre for Cronulla, NSW and Australia.

Despite always looking to be on the verge of falling apart, Dugan is an excellent defensive player with a strong running game. Originally a fullback, Dugan has made a representative career as a centre, playing 12 matches between 2015 and 2017, including the 2017 World Cup final.

Dugan was regularly selected for NSW up to 2017 and was a member of the team that won Game 2 of 2014 to end Queensland’s eight-year series winning streak.


2. Peter Dimond

Honours: Nominated for ARL Hall of Fame 2018. Western Suburbs Team of the Century.
Years active: 1955 to 1972.
Clubs: Dapto, Western Suburbs, South Newcastle, Maitland.
Club games: 155 (Western Suburbs only) (84 tries, 5 goals, 2 field goals).
Representative career: Tests: 10; NSW: 4.

Dimond was a blockbusting winger or centre who spread havoc among opposition defences with his devastating running game. He signed with Western Suburbs from Dapto in 1958 and after just a handful of matches was named in the NSW team to play Queensland.

Dimond had a sensational introduction to senior representative football, scoring three tries, which earnt him selection onto the national team to play Great Britain that year, while still a teenager.

Playing ten tests in total, Dimond was one of the outstanding players on the 1963–64 Kangaroo tour as Australia recaptured the Ashes. Dimond played in all six tests on tour, a highlight being the two tries he scored in Australia’s 50–12 destruction of Great Britain at Swinton.

He made one more Test appearance in the deciding Third Test against Great Britain in 1966 to help Australia retain the Ashes.

Dimond played in four grand finals – 1958, 1961, 1962, and 1963 – but lost to the great St George team on each occasion. On retirement he held the Wests try-scoring record with 83.

Dimond was renowned as equal to any forward for toughness and is famously remembered for ironing out football-playing priest Father John Cootes with a stiff arm tackle.


3. Pat Devery (goalkicker)

Years active: 1944 to 1954.
Clubs: Fortitude Valley (QLD), Balmain, Huddersfield (UK).
Club games: 261 (excluding Valleys) (123 tries, 460 goals).
Representative career: Tests: 3; NSW: 2; Other nationalities: 11.

Who is Pat Devery? I think a good way to show you the regard in which this great five-eighth was held is to present an extract from the Sydney Morning Herald from June 1947:

Pat Devery, Australia’s greatest rugby league footballer, has accepted an offer from the Huddersfield club and will fly to England at the end of the present Sydney season.

Devery has obtained the highest terms ever granted to an Australian player.

He will receive the sum of £1,300 tax free, plus £7 for each match won, £6 for a draw, and £5 for a loss.

He will also be found a position as a school teacher and will be provided with free air travel each way.

Rugby league officials, and members of the State selection committee, last night expressed bitter disappointment at the news that Devery was to be lost to Australian football. He has established himself as one of the greatest five-eighths Australia has had, and is now at the top of his

He will lead N.S.W. against Queensland this afternoon. It was expected that he would be captain of Australia against France next year, and on the next tour of England.

In Australia Devery scored seven tries on debut for Valleys in the Brisbane competition. He then played in Balmain’s three premierships in 1944 and 1946-47.

While in England Devery took Huddersfield to both Championship and Challenge Cup success. He scored over 1000 points during his English career between 1948 and 1954 and holds the record for most points in a season for Huddersfield at 332.

Sports opinion delivered daily 



4. Sid Deane (captain)

Honours: North Sydney Team of the Century
Years active: 1908 – 1919.
Clubs: North Sydney, Oldham (UK), Hull F.C. (UK).
Club games: 139 (excludes Hull F.C.) (42 tries).
Representative career: Tests: 5, NSW: 14.

Deane was a North Sydney pioneer. He was present at the meeting to establish the club and played five-eighth in their first match in 1908.

He played five Tests for Australia and was Dally Messenger’s centre partner in the first ever Test match for Australia. In 1914 Deane became North Sydney’s first ever national captain, leading the side in all three tests, including the first-ever win over Great Britain on Australian soil.

He was also captain for Australia and scored a try in the famous ‘Rorke’s Drift’ third and deciding test, where Great Britain hung on for a win while finishing with only nine fit players.

After touring with the 1908 Kangaroos, Deane accepted an offer to play for Oldham in England. Oldham were championship finalists in each of the four years Deane played and he was captain and as they won the 1910 and 1911 Championships.

Deane returned to North Sydney for a few years and then went back to England to finish his career with Hull.


In 1912 Deane was sent off in a New South Wales tour match in New Zealand and suspended for the remainder of the tour by New Zealand Rugby League. The NSW team had to be persuaded not to go on strike as a result.

He must have been a fiery character as he was also sent off for fighting in a charity benefit match in 1917.

5. Jim Devereux

Honours: North Sydney Team of the Century.
Years active: 1908 to 1921.
Clubs: North Sydney, Hull FC (UK).
Club games: 189 (111 tries, 5 goals).
Representative career: Tests: 5; NSW: 2.

Continuing the North Sydney and Hull FC connection in this team, our second winger is Jim Devereux, who played for both clubs alongside Sid Deane during the early years of rugby league.


Devereux first played in 1907 for NSW against the New Zealand All Golds and joined the rebel code for North Sydney in 1908.

Devereux has the distinction of scoring the first ever try for Australia against England on the 1908-09 Kangaroo tour and went on to score a hat trick in that test, which finished a 22-all draw.

Teammate Tom McCabe described one of those tries, saying: “He raced for the corner, finding no opening in that direction. He wheeled almost at right angles, and beat man after man, and scored between the posts.”

Tom McCabe added: “He was fast and agile with a big side-step, was a ruthless tackler and a smart ball-player with great hands. He was constantly regarded as one of the best three-quarters in the world during his time as a player, some even suggesting he was better than Messenger.”

Devereux was the top try-scorer on that tour with 17 tries. Like Sid Deane, he was signed by Hull FC at the end of the tour and he played for the club until 1921, becoming the first player to score 100 career tries for them. He captained the side to a Challenge Cup victory in 1914.

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6. Laurie Daley

Honours: ARL Hall of Fame, NSW Sports Hall of Fame, Dally M Medal 1995.
Years active: 1987 to 2000.
Clubs: Canberra.
All games: 330 (120 tries, 586 points).
Representative career: Tests: 26 (5SL); NSW: 23 (3SL).
Nickname: Lozza.
Roy and HG nickname: Tooley.


Laurie Daley was a mainstay for Canberra, NSW, and Australia through successful periods for each team.

He was a brilliant attacking player with the ability to just make things happen. First as a dangerous centre, later as a running five-eighth, Daley played in four grand finals with the Raiders, winning three.

After playing first grade for the Raiders at only 17, Daley broke into the NSW team as a teenager. He had a rough initiation in 1989 but then grew to become the cornerstone of NSW’s most successful era, captaining the side from 22 years old to series victories from 1992 to 1994 and again in 1996.

Daley played 21 times for as a centre or five-eighth for Australia, losing only three times and captaining the side twice. He also captained the Australian Super League Team in five tests, scoring a hat trick in the first Test win against England in 1997.

In 1992 Daley also led Country to their first win over City since 1975, scoring the matchwinning try.

That year Country Firsts, made up of player who actually played in the country leagues, also defeated the City firsts team.

Phil Gould said, “Laurie Daley was a special talent. From day one, he had the belief that he could make things happen on the football field.”


7. Micky Dore

Years active: 1908 to 1909.
Clubs: Norths (QLD).
Representative career: Tests: 3; Queensland: 7.

Micky Dore was a Rugby AU and league pioneer. Along with Dally Messenger, Denis Lutge, Doug McLean senior and John Rosewell, he was one of the inaugural five Australian dual-code rugby internationals.

Having earlier represented at rugby union, they debuted in international rugby league in Sydney on 9 May 1908 in the first-ever Australian league test against NZ.

He was one of the founding fathers of rugby league in Queensland and captained Norths in the first ever Brisbane premiership match in 1908.

Dore’s decision to switch codes in 1907 influenced many other Queensland union players to join the rugby league ranks. He was a member of the inaugural committee of the Queensland Rugby Football Association and was a foundation Australian selector (picking himself!).


Dore could not get leave from his job to join the 1908-09 Kangaroos but played a further home test against New Zealand in 1909. Dore died in 1910, aged only 27. The QRL donated 20 pounds to his widow and a benefit match was played at the Gabba in 1911 raising another 35 pounds.

8. Brian Davies

Honours: ARL Hall of Fame, QRL Team of the Century, Queesnaldn Sports Hall of Fame.
Years active: 1948 to 1964.
Clubs: Brisbane Brothers, Canterbury Bankstown.
All games: 360 (90 tries, 848 points).
Representative career: Tests: 33; Queensland: 31.
Nickname: Bull.

Brian Davies was a mainstay of the Queensland and Australian teams through the 1950s, appearing more than 30 times for each. This was highlighted by two Kangaroo tours and two World Cup campaigns. Davies also captain-coached Australia in the 1958 series against England despite being the only Queensland representative in the team.

This was a bit of a surprise to Davies, as he had only coached the Queensland side that year after the current coach fell ill.

Davies never even played rugby league until he was 17. He was an apprentice plumber and went to do a job at the Courier Mail newspaper and someone there talked him into going down for a trial with Brothers.

A staple of the Brisbane rugby league scene for Brisbane Brothers, Davies was named BRL player of the year, four years in a row, from 1955 to 1958, and won two premierships with the Brethren before moving to Sydney to join Canterbury for four years.

After a brief stint in Queensland Country Davies returned to Brothers for a final year to see out his career. He was named in the second row for the Queensland team of century.


9. Dan Dempsey

Honours: ARL Hall of Fame.
Years active: 1922 to 1934.
Clubs: Toowoomba (QLD), Ipswich (QLD).
All games: 104 (13 tries).
Representative career: Tests: 7; Queensland: 31.

Another from the great rugby league Nursery of Queensland’s Darling Downs, Dan Dempsey was one of the toughest players of his generation. He represented his country at second-rower, prop and hooker.

Alongside Herb Steinohrt, Tom Gorman and Duncan Thompson, Dempsey was in the Toowoomba sides which beat all comers, including Sydney premiers South Sydney, Brisbane and Ipswich and visiting representative sides New South Wales, Great Britain and New Zealand.

When he moved to Ipswich that region dominated South East Queensland rugby league, winning Bulimba Cup titles against Toowoomba and Brisbane.

During his career Dempsey played in three winning series for Queensland and went on two Kangaroo tours (1929–30 and 1933–34). In The Kangaroos Ian Heads related a story by Ray Stehr of Dempsey at St Helens being “kicked across the face when he fell in a scrum in as vicious and foul an incident as I have ever seen“.

Dempsey was carried off, blood spurting from a cut above one eye. Stehr then recalled how, suddenly, Dempsey sat up and held the edge of the gash together and said, “put a safety pin in it, and let me get back there”.

Dempsey played in all three tests against England in 1928 and was Australia’s hooker in the famous ‘Battle of Brisbane’ test that Australia won in 1932.


In that game Dempsey’s left forearm was fractured, but he played on for quite a time until the doctor forced him off and he began weeping on the touchline because both the ambulanceman and the team’s manager, Harry Sunderland wouldn’t let him back into the game.

Dempsey was the first forward to play in four Ashes series.

10. Greg Dowling

Honours: North Queensland team of the century, Wynnum Manly Team of Legends.
Years active: 1980 to 1991.
Clubs: Norths Brisbane (QLD), Wynnum-Manly (QLD), Wigan (UK), Brisbane Broncos.
Club games: 94 (excluding Wynnum) (11 tries).
Representative career: Tests: 12; Queensland: 11.
Nickname: Dish head.
Roy and HG nickname: Wing-nut.

The man with one of the best and most accurate nicknames in rugby league, Greg Dowling was a mainstay for the Queensland State of Origin team during the mid-1980s. A no-nonsense front-rower, Dowling is known for two memorable moments.

In 1984 State of Origin Game 2 in a quagmire at the Sydney Cricket Ground Dowling took an amazing diving catch just inches above the ground from a Wally Lewis chip kick that hit the crossbar to slide over and score.

In 1985, in the first Test against New Zealand, Dowling was involved in a famous stoush with New Zealand hardman Kevin Tamati, which erupted on the field and continued on the sideline as the players were sent to the sin bin.

Dowling is also remembered for giving a verbal spray to New South Wales coach Terry Fearnley during State of Origin 3 of 1985. Fearnley was also the Australian coach and had dropped four Queenslanders, after winning the second Test against New Zealand that year, only to lose the third Test 18-0.


From that time the national coach cannot also coach their state team.

Dowling was a member of the 1985 World Cup squad and went on the 1986 Kangaroo tour, played in every test.

For Queensland Dowling debuted in 1980 in the Queensland Residents side before playing State of Origin from 1984 to 1987.

In club football Dowling won three premierships with the great Wynnum-Manly team of the 1980s before becoming a founding player for the Brisbane Broncos.

Greg Consescu said, “In that game (Game 2 of 1987), I threw him a hospital pass. I thought I’d killed him. I think it was Les Davidson who jumped out of the line without me seeing him. Poor GD, I ran up to him and while he had blue eyes, his eyes were rolling like (the dials on) a poker machine – blue, red, blue, red. GD shook it off and said he was all right”.

11. Fred de Belin

Honours: Balmain Tigers hall of fame.
Years active: 1942 to 1954.
Clubs: Balmain, Cootamundra.
Club games: 75 (Balmain) (13 tries, 1 goal).
Representative career: Tests: 8; New South Wales: 10.

The father of Jack, Fred de Belin was a second-rower for Balmain who was a part of their 1946 premiership victory (he missed their 1947 triumph with a broken leg) and later captained the club.


To show that wrestling has been around the game for a long time, De Belin won the NSW Amateur wrestling title in 1942, before enlisting in the RAAF and taking part in bombing raids over Germany.

During his service period he secured the combined Australian services light heavyweight boxing title. Obviously this was not a man to be trifled with. He also played rugby union at the end of the war in an Australian airmen’s team in England, Wales and France, returning to Britain with the Kangaroos at the end of 1948.

De Belin debuted for NSW and Australia in 1948 and was awarded man of the match in the second Test against NZ, who dubbed him ‘The Blond Tiger’.

He went on to play three tests on the 1948 Kangaroo tour and was a member of the Australian side that recovered the Ashes for the first time in 30 years in 1950.

In state football, De Belin represented New South Wales ten times and was never on the losing side. He also won a Maher Cup with Cootamundra in 1954.


12. Paul Dunn

Honours: Clive Churchill Medal 1988.
Years active: 1984 to 1996.
Clubs: Eastern Suburbs, Canterbury, Penrith, Parramatta.
Club games: 254 (9 tries).
Representative career: Tests: 8; NSW: 3.

Paul Dunn was a rock-solid prop and second-rower who won premierships with Canterbury in 1988 and Penrith in 1991. His most notable achievement was being awarded the Clive Churchill medal for best on the ground in Canterbury’s 1988 victory over Balmain.

Dunn’s first Test was against Papua New Guinea in October 1986. That was followed by the undefeated Kangaroo tour of England and France. After several lead-up matches in England, he was chosen as a prop for the second and third Tests, where he was awarded the man of the match for the third test.

He retained this position for the two tests against France and then a further test against Papua New Guinea. He also played in the World Cup final against New Zealand in 1988.

13. Jim Dymock

Honours: Dally M Lock of the Year 1993, 1995 and 1996. Clive Churchill Medal 1995.
Years active: 1991 to 2004.
Clubs: Western Suburbs, Canterbury, Parramatta, London Broncos (UK).
Club games: 309 (47 tries, 2 field goals).
Representative career: Tests: 6 (plus 2 for Tonga); NSW: 6.
Roy and HG nickname: The Doctor’s Feet.

Three-time Dally M Lock of the Year, Jim Dymock was a tough and skilful forward who played in grand finals for Canterbury.


He was man of the match in the 1995 grand final despite having signed with Parramatta for the following year as part of the Super League war fallout.

Dymock debuted for Australia at the 1995 World Cup after Super League-aligned players were excluded from selection. Nevertheless, the weakened side won the World Cup against full strength opposition.

Dymock also represented New South Wales six times between 1996 and 1998. Dymock was allegedly the man who came up with NSW’s ‘cattledog’ cry when it came time to put on a stink.

Dymock went on to play over 100 games for Parramatta before moving to England and playing over 100 games for the London Broncos.

Dymock said, “It’s not about the game, the game’s easy. It’s the training and preparation that goes in it. Hard work beats talent”

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14. Les Davidson
South Sydney, Cronulla, Warrington (UK), Wigan (UK); 1984 to 1998; Tests: 4; NSW: 5

A prop and second-rower and a hard, hard man.

15. Ian ‘Ripper’ Doyle
Toowoomba All Whites (QLD); 1950 to 1959; Tests: 7; Queensland: 7

Toowoomba stalwart and lock and 1956-57 Kangaroo tourist.

16. Ken Day
Wests (QLD), Manly; 1960 to 1968; Tests: 9; Queensland: 13

Second Row. A Kangaroo tourist in 1963-64 from Brisbane who played in the famous ‘Swinton Massacre’.

17. Peter Diversi
North Sydney, Manly; 1952 to 1962; Tests: 5; NSW: 10


A lock and a feared defender who scored a try on debut in the 1954 Ashes decider and played in the 1954 World Cup.

Honourable mentions

Brett Dallas (wing – six tests), Les Dawson (wing, five Tests), John Dorahy (fullback and centre, two tests), Frank Drake (fullback, two tests), Col Donohoe (halfback, two tests), Phil Daley (prop, three tests) and Michael Devere (centre, four tests).

Team D is a hard pack with some skill out wide and an absolute winner at pivot. They may turn some heads and leave some bruises.

Next time we look at Team Es with some quality backs and a crafty hooker.