Established in 1982, the Illawarra Steelers didn’t have much success nor win a premiership, however they did produce some fine players in their 17-year existence.
Now half of the joint venture St George Illawarra Dragons, this is the best team to solely represent the Steel City.
1. John Dorahy
Two caps Australia, three NSW
The club’s first captain, ‘Joe Cool’ was a local junior known for his calmness under pressure, kick chase and defence. He scored over 400 points in his first four years at the club.
2. Alan McIndoe
One cap for Australia, nine for Queensland
Was the Steelers’ first to represent Australia and was a prolific try-scorer who holds the club record for most tries in a season – 19 in 1991. Left on a sour note but thoroughly deserves a spot in this team.
3. Brett Rodwell
One cap for NSW
The hard-running centre used his upright stance to shrug off opposition players. His hat trick in the 1989 Panasonic semi-final helped Illawarra reach their first-ever major final.
4. Paul McGreggor
Two caps for Australia, 14 for NSW
A tall, powerfully built centre, ‘Mary’ could dominate his opponents and make long breaks with his strength. One of the best Illawarra ever produced, his failures as a coach shouldn’t take away from his playing career.
5. Rod Wishart
15 caps for Australia, 22 for NSW
The Steelers’ highest point-scorer and try-scorer, Wishart was like a forward in the way he carted up the ball. His accurate goal kicking and competitive nature make him the best player in club history.
6. Greg Mackey
Dubbed ‘Bluey’ for his Ginger hair, which made him a fan favourite, Mackey had the organisational skills and smarts to be solid contributor.
7. John Simon
One cap for Australia, four for NSW
A fast halfback with an accurate kicking game, Simon was a local junior who had suffered a cut in the shower, which made him miss many games in 1993.
8. Chris Walsh
One cap for NSW
Inspirational leader who was clubman of the year twice due. In ’87, he was told to retire after injuring two vertebrae but continued to play on for another five years.
9. Michael Bolt
Known as ‘Iron Man’ for playing 187 games straight, he was the Steelers’ player of the year from 1983-87. Incredible durability and consistency.
10. David Walsh
Walsh played in the first-ever game and was a solid all-rounder, even if he didn’t get many rave reviews.
11. Neil Piccinelli
Bone-jarring defence and the ability to offload made Piccinelli an x-factor in the ’92 campaign. His time running on the farm chasing chickens made him a great cover tackler.
12. Brad Mackay
12 caps for Australia, 17 for NSW
A great ball player and a runner, Mackay’s stint in Illawarra helped him find his best form, although he was overshadowed by Bradley Clyde.
13. Ian Russell
Great hands and toughness made him the best player at the club in the early ’90s. He also had a good kicking game for a lock and was one the better defenders in the league. Despite a bevy of injures, he still finished top ten in all-time games for the club.
Bench: Dale Fritz, Craig Smith, Brian Hetherington and Mark Broadhurst
Coach: Graham Murray
A really tough side, these forwards are great tacklers, while Simon can dictate play and control the game.
The two strike weapons out wide in McGregor and Wishart both need to be tackled by multiple defenders. Mackay and Cross add two great ball-players who can create points by themselves.