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The forgotten players: Balmain Tigers

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Roar Guru
21st January, 2021
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This is the 26th article in the ongoing series in which we remember some of the forgotten players from your favourite club.

Today the famous Balmain Tigers, one of the league’s foundation clubs that survived from 1908 until 1999 before merging with the Western Suburbs Magpies. The club won 11 premierships, including a three-peat in 1915 to 1917 and back-to-back premierships in both 1919-20 and 1946-47.

Just over 900 players have worn the famous black and gold since captain-coach Bob Graves led them out for their first match, and the list is littered with not only local legends but also some of the league’s greatest ever players. Players like Paul Sironen, Benny Elias, Gary Jack, Keith Barnes, ‘Chook’ Fraser, Wayne Pearce, Steve Roach, Tim Brasher, Peter Provan, Tom Bourke, Sid Goodwin and Dennis Tutty need little or no introduction to league fans.

It’s now been 21 seasons since the finale Balmain Tigers game. How many of this team of Balmain players do you remember?

1. Morvin Edwards
After beginning his career in New Zealand, he came to the Tigers in 1993 after playing a couple of season in England. He played 26 games for the Tigers over the next two years before moving on to Penrith. He also played ten Tests for NZ.

2. Ian Herron
Born in Ireland but raised in the St George district, Herron represented the Australian Schoolboys before making his first-grade debut for the Dragons in 1990. A prolific goal kicker with an unusual kicking style, he joined the Tigers for just one season in 1996, playing 12 games for the club. He then played for Parramatta and finished his career in England. He also represented Ireland on one occasion.

Steeden Rugby League Generic

(Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

3. Andy Currier
Currier was a strong running centre and excellent goal kicker who played over 300 games at the top level in his 15-year career in rugby league. Currier joined the Tigers in 1989 and played 23 first-grade games for the club over the next two years. He was the league’s top point scorer in 1989. He also played two Tests for Great Britain.

4. Geoff Starling
Starling was a Balmain junior who had a meteoric rise when he made his first-grade debut for the club in 1971. A few months later he became the youngest player to be selected for Australia at 18 years and 178 days. Starling was a naturally gifted player and could do it all. He played 65 games for the Tigers between 1971 and 1974 and 11 Tests for Australia before his career was sadly ended at the age of 22 by Addison’s disease.

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5. Larry Corowa, MBE
Not big by the standard of today’s outside backs, Corowa was an absolute speedster with great evasive skills. He came from the far north coast of New South Wales to the Tigers and made first grade in 1978. He played 96 games for the club over the next six years and scored 64 tries. He also played five games for NSW and two Tests for Australia. After eight years out of the game he played two first-grade games for the Gold Coast Seagulls in 1991.

6. Tony Myler
A legend at Widnes, Myler joined the Tigers for 13 games during the 1986 English off-season. An outstanding five-eighth when fully fit, he also played 14 Tests for Great Britain.

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7. Gary Freeman, MNZM
Freeman was a fierce competitor and a Kiwi legend who loved nothing more than firing up the opposition no matter how big they were. After first playing in New Zealand and England, he joined Balmain in 1988 and played 51 games for the club over the next four years. He then moved on to the Roosters, Penrith and finally Parramatta before retiring at the end of the 1996 season. He played 45 Tests for NZ.

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8. Dennis Manteit
A top-class forward, Manteit moved from the Brisbane competition at the age of 27 to join the Bulldogs for four years in 1970. He then transferred to the Balmain Tigers for three years in 1974 and played 43 first-grade games for the club. He also played 15 games for Queensland and three Test matches for Australia.

9. Peter Boulton
A Balmain stalwart, Boulton came from Grafton to join the Tigers in 1969 and stayed for the next seven years. He played 95 games for the club, including the victorious 1969 grand final, which was just his second first-grade game.

10. Barry McTaggart
Hailing from Gympie in Queensland, McTaggart joined Balmain in 1969, winning a premiership in his first year with the club. The big, hardworking forward went on to play 59 games for the Tigers over the next four years before injuries curtailed his career. He also played one Test match for Australia.

(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

11. Glenn Morrison
Big and mobile, Morrison played 324 games in his 16-year career and scored 96 tries along the way. He made his first-grade debut with Balmain in 1996 and played 41 games for the club over the next two seasons before moving to the North Sydney Bears, where he played in their final match in the big time in 1999. He then had stints with both the Cowboys and the Eels before finishing his top-level career in England.

12. Trevor Ryan
An excellent back-rower or centre, Ryan came from northern NSW to the Tigers and made his first-grade debut for the club at the age of 18. He went on to play 136 games for the club over the next seven years before transferring to Newtown and then Wests. He ended up back at Balmain in 1982 and captained the side, playing another 23 games for the club. He played one game for NSW.

13. Brian Lockwood
An English league legend who played over 440 top-level games in a 19-year career as well as 19 Tests for England and Great Britain. Hard as nails and also one of the best ball-players of all time, he joined Balmain in 1975 and played 43 games for the club over the next three seasons before returning to England.

14. Neil Whittaker
Whittaker began with his head in a scrum for Balmain in 1979 and ended up as the NRL’s CEO in 1999. He was selected as first-grade hooker by the Tigers in 1979 and held that spot, playing 118 games over the next seven years, until eventually losing his place to Benny Elias.

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15. Adam Starr
A big prop forward, Starr joined Balmain from the Roosters in 1996 and played 41 first-grade games for the club over the next four years. He went on to play with Redcliffe in the Queensland Cup competition.

16. Steve Lavers
Lavers was one of the most feared defensive forwards of his day and didn’t take any prisoners on the field. He played 92 games for Balmain between 1975 and 1982 and also one game for NSW.

17. David Grant
There weren’t many better forwards going around in the late 1970s and early 1980s than David Grant. A good ball runner and punishing defender, he played 50 first-grade games for the Tigers between 1978 and 1981 before heading to Canberra, where he captained their inaugural first-grade team in 1982. He was very unlucky never to play representative football. Sadly, Grant died of a heart attack at the age of 38.