While watching the Dragons being toweled up by the Knights last week it set me wondering what it would be like to have a dominant pack of forwards.
A pack so good that even Ben Hunt and Corey Norman would look like first-grade halves running around behind them, and a pack that wouldn’t allow the opposition to score soft tries.
I had a wander down memory lane over the years that I’ve been following the game to determine what was the best club pack of forwards to take the field at one time.
The following great premiership-winning forward packs came to mind: 1966 St George Dragons, 1972 Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, 2006 Brisbane Broncos, 2015 North Queensland Cowboys and 2017 Melbourne Storm.
However, for sheer domination in every sense of the word, I couldn’t go past the South Sydney Rabbitohs’ pack of 1970. Every one of these forwards was an international, and just about the best player in their position in the game. I doubt if any rival pack of forwards even go close to them.
Here they are.
13. Ron Coote
He is ranked number two behind the great Johnny Raper as the second best lock forward of all time. He was very mobile, a great cover defender and an excellent ball player. He played 257 games for both Souths and Easts, 15 games for NSW and 23 games for Australia, including three games as captain, before injury forced him into early retirement in 1978. Coote won four premierships with Souths (1967, 1968, 1970 and 1971) and two with the Roosters (1974 and 1975). He was a noted try scorer with 87 first-grade tries.
12. Bob McCarthy
He played 251 first-grade games for both Souths and Canterbury, 11 games for NSW and 15 games for Australia, including one as captain. He won three premierships with the Rabbitohs (1967, 1970 and 1971). McCarthy was a big, mobile forward with a great turn of speed who pioneered the wide-running forward game, and he was almost unstoppable on his day, running in 119 first-grade tries in his career.
11. Gary Stevens
He was a tough-tackling second-rower who rarely missed his man. Stevens played 189 first-grade games for both Souths and Canterbury and five games for Australia. He won two premierships with Souths (1970 and 1971).
10. John Sattler
Hailing from the Newcastle coal fields, John Sattler was a hard, uncompromising forward and a natural leader, captaining the Rabbitohs to four premierships (1967, 1968, 1970 and 1971).
He was famous for his courage in playing through the 1970 grand final with a broken jaw. Sattler played 197 games for Souths, and four each for NSW, Queensland and Australia, captaining Australia on three occasions.
9. Elwyn Walters
Back in the day when hookers worked for a living, there was none better than Walters, who not only dominated opponents in the scrums, but was a clever forward with the ball in his hands and an uncompromising defender. Walters played 192 games for Souths, Easts and Manly and won five premierships, three with Souths (1967, 1968 and 1970) and two with the Roosters (1974 and 1975). A very durable player, Walters played 11 games for NSW and 20 games for Australia.
8. John O’Neill
An aggressive and much feared front-rower, O’Neill dominated opposition forwards for 12 seasons, going on to play 202 games for Souths and Manly, and winning a total of six premierships, four with Souths (1967, 1968, 1970 and 1971) and two with Manly (1972 and 1973). He also played five games for NSW and ten games for Australia.
I doubt if we’ll see the like of this forward pack ever again.