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The Roar



The forgotten players: Hunter Mariners

(Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Roar Guru
19th December, 2020

This is the 19th article in the ongoing series where we remember some of the forgotten players from your favourite club. In this case, perhaps a forgotten club?

The Hunter Mariners were the Super League’s answer to the ARL’s Newcastle Knights and were only around for the 1997 season. To jog your memory of the club, here are some fun facts.

A total of 29 players turned out for the club in their one and only season.

Their biggest win was a 38-10 victory over the Cowboys.

Their biggest loss came against the Sharks when they lost 26-0.

Both Scott Hill and Troy Stone played every game for the club (18).

Nick Zisti holds the records for most tries in the season (9) and most points for the club (76).

Finally, they finished sixth in a ten-team competition.

Here’s a team made up of Mariners players who you may have forgotten.


1. Gavin Thompson
Thompson’s only time in the top grade was with the Mariners in 1997 when he played 12 games. He moved to the Sharks the following year but failed to make it into the first-grade team.

2. Keith Beauchamp
Fast and tough, Beauchamp came to the Mariners after stints with both Illawarra and the Knights and scored seven tries in his 17 games for the club.

3. Brad Godden
Godden was a classy utility back who had six successful seasons with the Knights before joining the Mariners. He played 11 games for the club before joining Leeds in the UK. He was also selected in Australia’s 1992 World Cup squad.

4. John Carlaw
A big and classy outside back, Carlaw made his first-grade debut for the Mariners in 1997 and played 13 games for the club that year, scoring eight tries. He went on to play over 150 games at the top level for six different clubs in his eight-year career.

5. Nick Zisti
Big and fast, Zisti knew the way to the try line. He came to the Mariners via South Sydney and St George and ended up scoring both the most points and most tries for the club. He switched to rugby union in 1999 and played four Tests for Italy.


6. Brett Kimmorley
One of the best halfbacks to ever play the game, Kimmorley joined the Mariners from the Knights where his first grade ambitions were hampered by Andrew Johns. He played ten games for the Mariners in 1997 before heading to Melbourne the following year, winning a premiership with the Storm and the Clive Churchill medal in 1999.

He played over 300 games at the top level in his 16-year career, played ten Origins for NSW and 22 Tests for Australia, including Super League.

7. Noel Goldthorpe
A very good half who played 182 games at the top level as well as three Super League Origin matches. Although a Saints junior, he got his start with Wests before really establishing himself in the top grade in his five-year stint with St George commencing in 1992. He played 14 games for the Mariners in 1997.

8. Anthony Brann
Brann debuted with Balmain in 1996 before heading to the Mariners in 1997 where he played 16 games in the top grade. Once the Mariners folded, he played the rest of his career with Canberra.

9. Richard Swain
A relentless defender, Swain made his first-grade debut with the Mariners in 1997, playing 13 games for the club. He then headed for the newly-formed Storm, where he became one of their best players. Although born and raised in Tamworth, he managed to play 19 Tests for the Kiwis.

10. Troy Stone
Stone debuted for the Sharks as a centre in 1993 but shifted to the forwards the next year when he signed with St George. He played every game for the Mariners in 1997. He then went on to play with Canterbury before finishing his top-level career in England.

11. Paul Marquet
A lightweight back-rower by today’s standards, Marquet was tough and resilient and never left anything on the paddock. He played nearly 260 top-level games in his 13-year career and joined the Mariners from the Knights, playing 15 first-grade games for the club. He scored the Mariners’ first-ever try.

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(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)


12. Tony Iro
Iro was a great ball runner, and after beginning his career in NZ, played 244 first-grade games in his 13-year career together with 25 Test matches for NZ. He played 14 games for the Mariners.

13. Tyran Smith
A real giant at nearly 200 cm and 112 kgs, Smith played for seven different clubs in his 188 game career. He joined the Mariners after switching mid-season from the Cowboys in 1997 but played just two games for the club. He played ten Test matches for NZ.

14. Robbie McCormack
A very good hooker and utility back, McCormack played most of his career in the Hunter region, spending nine years with the Knights before switching to the Mariners in 1997 where he played 15 first-grade games. Following the Mariners’ demise, he headed to England to finish his career.

15. Justin Dooley
A versatile and hard-working forward, Dooley joined the Mariners from Wests and played just four first-grade games for the club, including their inaugural match. He then spent the next two seasons with the Roosters before finishing his career in the UK.

16. Neil Piccinelli
A talented and hard-working back-rower with rock-solid defence, Piccinelli was an Illawarra Steelers legend, playing 145 games for the club before joining the Mariners in 1997, playing almost every game. He then finished his career at the Knights in 1998. He was very unlucky never to be selected for Origin.

17. Willie Poching
A big powerful back-rower, Poching came out of the Auckland competition to play 236 top-level games in his 12-year career, half of them for the Leeds Rhinos. He played 13 games for the Mariners, and represented both Samoa and New Zealand at Test level.