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North Sydney Bears all-time team

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Roar Guru
7th October, 2021
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The North Sydney Bears are the winners of two premierships and were a foundation club before exiting the competition in 1999.

They had a brief stint as the Northern Eagles as a merger with Manly. Their fans still can see the Bears as their team as a feeder club for the Roosters.

I’ll continue my series on naming each team’s best team ever. I am going to be doing a fantasy tournament with these all-time teams therefore we can’t have the same player on the two different teams.

To decide which team the player is picked in, the most games that player has played for gets first choice. If they don’t make that team they can be picked in the team they play the second most games for – and so on and so forth.

1. Brian Carlson: 24 Tests for Australia
Regarded as one finest players from his era, Carlson also captained and coached Australia. He was a very difficult player to stop with his kicking game and famous swerve. That made him a legend for the Bears where he formed a great connection with Ken Irvine.

2. Brett Dallas: five Tests for Australia, ten Origins for Queensland
One of the fastest players to ever play, Dallas won the league sprint race. Dallas really kicked on with the Bears where he made rep teams and had a 60 per cent try-scoring rate.

3. Greg Florimo: five Tests for Australia, four Origins for NSW
The Bears’ most capped player is someone who is synonymous with the Bears. He was a steamroller at his best who could fill in plenty of positions. He has the unique distinction of playing for NSW seven years apart. No surprise he is Bears CEO, campaigning for the Bears’ reinstatement.

(Photo by Getty Images)

4. Peter Jackson: four Tests for Australia, 16 Origins for Queensland
When he arrived to the Bears, ‘Jacko’ was Norths’ biggest attacking threat and was key to leading Norths to the preliminary final – the Bears’ best result in over 50 years. He could play in the halves or the forwards. ‘Jacko’ may have not been at the Bears for long but he was a part of the Bears’ best years since the premierships in 1921-22.


5. Ken Irvine: 37 Tests for Australia, 27 games for NSW
He was the epitome of a try-scoring machine. He was the leading try scorer in rugby league with 212 tries in 242 games. In fact, no one else has scored more then 190. He scored the second most tries for Australia, and the most for NSW with 30. Irvine had an incredible ability score. He could swerve and move without losing much speed. He was like no other and his stats speak for themselves. He was so fast that he had a decent chance of making the 1960 Olympics. He ran 100 yards in 9.93 seconds. He was named on the wing in the team of the century so it was obvious he made this team.

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6. Jason Taylor: two Origins for NSW, Rothmans Medal winner
He lacked in defence and pace but Taylor made up for it with his smarts, amazing kicking game and accurate goal kicking. Taylor is the Bears’ leading point scorer among a number of records he broke for the Bears. He was the winner of last ever Rothmans Medal, his finest moment, when he kicked a field goal to beat Brisbane in the finals. Taylor was also the former holder of the point-scoring record of all time before being passed by Andrew Johns.

7. Duncan Thompson: 32 Tests for Australia, 16 games for Queensland
He had a very high football IQ. Thompson was a part of the Bears’ two premierships victories. He was able to create overlaps or put a teammate in a gap with a pass. Thompson was the finest attacking halfback of his time. He made Queensland’s team of the century but his best achievement was his courage and toughness. He managed to survive a gunshot wound during World War One and was able to play rugby league again despite doctors saying otherwise. He lived the rest of his life with fragments of a bullet still in his body. With a man of his smarts, he was able to revolutionise coaching and is regarded as a father of modern coaching.

North Sydney Oval

(Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

8. Gary Larson: eight Tests for Australia, 24 Origins for Queensland
He was a Bears legend that played for the black and red for 12 years. He was a tireless workhorse who was your typical prop with a high workload and was the fabric of the Bears’ side in the ’90s. He may not make too many highlights but his worth and importance to the Bears was quite obvious.

9. John Gray: hooker of the year, eight Tests for England, three Tests for Great Britain
He was a triple-code star who played league, union and cricket in the top grades and was also a dual international. He won AMCO Cup player of the tournament but is probably most famous for inventing the around-the-corner goal-kicking style compared to the old toe-bash kicking style that was mostly used.

10. Bill Hamilton: four games for NSW
He arrived from Manly in 1975, and was one of the most important signings in Bears history. He made the Bears from the laughing stock of the league to a much more respectable team. He was captain-coach of the Bears when they won their last ever trophy, the Channel Ten Cup.

11. Mark Graham: two-time second-rower of the year, 29 Tests for NZ
The barnstorming Kiwi was the shining light in some bad Bears teams. He could transition from playing tough or skilful depending on what his team needed from him. He had great vision for a second-rower, which made him one of the best second-rowers in world. He was the first Kiwi in the Rugby League Hall of Fame and was named New Zealand player of the century. He is an all-time great.


12. David Fairleigh: second-rower of the year, Rothmans Medal winner, 15 Tests for Australia, ten Origins for NSW
He impressed from a young age. Fairleigh quickly established himself as one of the best forwards in the league. He won the Rothmans Medal in ’94 and was second to teammate Jason Taylor in 1996. He played in the same era as Bradley Clyde. That meant he hasn’t received the praise he has deserved.

13. Billy Moore: three Tests for Australia, 17 Origins for Queensland
He was a cult figure who didn’t mind going over the edge. He helped transform the Bears from a joke to the contenders in the ’90s. He famously said: “I hated it. I despised the fact that we even mentioned it, because that was the legacy of the past, that wasn’t something we’d carry into the future”. Moore coined the renewed phrase “Queenslander”, which made him a household name.

Billy Moore and Jason Taylor

(Photo by Getty Images)

Tim Pickup, Ross Warner, Peter Diversi, Bruce Walker.

This team has some real talent. The second-rowers of Fairleigh and Graham will terrorise the edges, while they will have two tacticians in Taylor and Thompson scheming to break down a defence.

They will form a great combination with Brian Carlson, one of the finest attacking players of his era.

The backs have two damaging centres in Florimo and Jackson. They have elite speed on both wings with Dallas and the greatest try scorer ever in Ken Irvine, who will ice any opportunities created by the halves.

I was surprised by how this team turned out considering they had two premierships in the early ’20s and didn’t have much success after that.


This team is pretty good and playing against them will be unbearable for the opponents. But how will they stack up against other teams?