While going through this process of compiling rugby league’s alphabet teams, there have been a number of players desperately unlucky to miss out on their respective squads – so I thought I would pick a Best of the Rest side.
Then I realised there were a number of players desperately unlucky to miss that side, so I picked a second Best of the Rest line-up, reasoning that I had combined the U, X and Zs so there were two team spots available. And even then I have unlucky players, but I’ve got to stop somewhere!
Here’s how the two Best of the Rest teams line up.
Best of the Rest team No.1
1. Gary Belcher (goal-kicker) – 15 Tests. Dally M Fullback of the Year 1987, 1989 and 1990. ‘Badge’ missed out to Keith Barnes.
2. Eric Harris – 11 games for Queensland, 391 tries for Leeds in the UK in 383 games. Member of Leeds’ greatest ever team. ‘The Toowoomba Ghost’ missed out to Harold Horder and Valentine Holmes.
3. Matt Gidley – 17 Tests. Missed out to Reg Gasnier and Tom Gorman.
4. Chris Close – 3 Tests. ‘Choppy’ missed out to Les Cubitt and Mick Cronin.
5. Michael Hancock – 14 Tests. Dally M Winger of the Year 1989. Missed out to Harold Horder and Valentine Holmes.
6. Alan Thompson – 8 Tests. Missed out to Johnathan Thurston.
7. Des Hasler – 13 Tests. Dally M Lock of the Year 1991. Missed out to Arthur ‘Pony’ Holloway.
8. Adrian Morley – 47 Tests (UK). Missed out to Mick Madsen and Nate Myles.
9. Dr George Peponis (captain) – 8 Tests. Missed out to Sid ‘Sandy’ Pearce.
10. Gary Parcell – 8 Tests. Missed out to Steve Price and Norm Potter.
11. Hugh McGahan – 32 Tests (NZ). Golden Boot Winner 1987. Dally M Second-rower of the Year 1987. Missed out to Gene Miles and Bob McCarthy.
12. Jim Paterson – 8 Tests. Missed out to Norm Provan and Sid ‘Joe’ Pearce.
13. Greg Bird – 17 Tests. Missed out to Sam Burgess.
14. Noel Cleal – 8 Tests. Dally M Second-rower of the Year 1984 and 1986. Missed out to Arthur Clues and Bradley Clyde.
15. Sam Backo – 6 Tests. Dally M Prop of the Year 1988. Missed out to Arthur Beetson and Roy Bull.
16. Kevin Schubert – 19 Tests. Hooker. Missed out to Cameron Smith.
17. Tim Brasher – 14 Tests. Dally M Fullback of the Year 1996. Missed out to Keith Barnes.
Best of the Rest team No.2
1. Brett Mullins – 8 Tests. Dally M Fullback of the Year 1994. Missed out to Frank McMillan.
2. John Ferguson – 3 Tests. Dally M Winger of the Year 1985 and 1988. ‘Chicka’ missed out to Dan Frawley and Dennis Flannery.
3. Johnny Greaves – 12 Tests. Missed out to Reg Gasnier and Tom Gorman.
4. Paul Sait – 16 Tests. Missed out to Darren Smith and Dale Shearer.
5. Larry Corowa – 2 Tests. Missed out to Brian Carlson and Jimmy Craig.
6. Dennis Pittard – 5 Tests. Rothmans Medal 1969 and 1971. Missed out to Tim Pickup.
7. Michael Morgan (goal-kicker) – 12 Tests. Dally M Halfback of the Year 2017. Missed out to Chris McKivat.
8. Rex Mossop – 12 Tests. ‘Moose’ missed out to Mick Madsen and Nate Myles.
9. Royce Simmons (captain) – 10 Tests. Dally M Hooker of the Year 1994. Missed out to Cameron Smith.
10. Jason Stevens – 18 Tests. Missed out to John Sattler and Ray Stehr.
11. John Cartwright – 7 Tests. Dally M Second-rower of the Year 1991 and 1992. Missed out to Arthur Clues and Bradley Clyde.
12. Dud Beattie – 15 Tests. Missed out to Frank Burge and Harry Bath.
13. Greg Pierce – 8 Tests. Cronulla Team of the Half Century. Missed out to Wally Prigg.
14. Brad MacKay – 12 Tests. Lock. Clive Churchill Medal 1993. Missed out to Steve Menzies.
15. Darius Boyd – 23 Tests. Dally M Fullback of the Year 2010. Missed out to Keith Barnes.
16. Bob Craig – 7 Tests. Lock. NSW Sports Hall of Fame. Champion swimmer, represented NSW in soccer and Australia in rugby union. Missed out to Ron Coote.
17. Rod Morris – 15 Tests. Prop. Missed out to Mick Madsen and Nate Myles.
And there you have the Best of the Rest teams. Will they be competitive against others in the Alphabet Cup? I’ll let you know very soon.
And who was still unlucky, even now after 26 teams have been selected?
Try Brad Thorn, Anthony Watmough, Kerrod Walters, Shaun Timmins, Mark Carroll, Andrew Ryan, Peter Tunks, Jake and Tommy Trbojevic, Karmichael Hunt, Dennis Ward, Kevin Ward, Brett Stewart, Eric Simms, Steve Simpson, Johnny Peard, Paul McGregor, Josh McGuire, Adam MacDougall, Josh Morris, Jimmy Lisle, Matthew Johns, Cliff Watson, Tommy Bishop, Terry Fahey, Terry Hill, Josh Hodgson, Johnny Hunter, Mark Harris, Geoff Gerard, Dane Gagai, Trevor Gillmeister, Kieran Foran, Blake Ferguson, Israel Folau, Daly Cherry-Evans, Damien Cook, Michael Cleary, Martin Bella, Matty Bowen, Shaun Berrigan, Willie Carne and Luke Bailey.
Most unlucky? Everyone will have their opinion, but for me it’s the fullbacks Matty ‘Mango’ Bowen and Brett ‘Snake’ Stewart. They could do things on the field that others could only dream of.
Next time: the coaches.