FLASHBACK: November 1948

There were calls for England based Australians to be allowed to play for the touring Kangaroos after Great Britain wrapped up the 1948 Ashes series with a 16-7 win at Swinton, in front of a crowd of 36,354. Players of the calibre of Brian Bevan, Pat Devery, Lionel Cooper, Johnny Hunter, Harry Bath, Ted Verrenkamp and Arthur Clues were contracted to English clubs, and therefore ineligible for Australia. The same situation was allowed to exist until the 1980s, when sanity finally prevailed. In 1974, for instance, the touring Great Britain side was hard hit by injuries, but could not call on the services of Sydney based stars like Mal Reilly, Phil Lowe, Mick Stephenson and Bill Ashurst. In 1948, Australia’s forwards were outplayed by their rivals on a heavy ground, with Ken Gee, Joe Egan and Trevor Foster leading the way. Centre, Albert Pimblett (Warrington) and winger, John Lawrenson (Wigan) scored two tries each for Great Britain. Australia’s only try was scored by Queenslander, Jack Horrigan. ‘The Sporting Chronicle’ newspaper had this to say about the Australians: “England need have no fear of losing the Ashes (ever), so long as the Kangaroos persist in their present unimaginative tactics. There were no match winners like Horder, Blinkhorn or Shankland (from previous tours).” Two weeks later Australia beat Wales 12-5 in Swansea, a result described as the finest win of the tour by Sydney journalist, Tom Goodman. Australia’s best were Fred de Belin and Eddie Brosnan in the forwards, and Clive Churchill and Bruce Hopkins in the backs in a match that was warmly appreciated by the crowd of 10,000. The Welsh team included winger, Denis Booker from Wakefield Trinity, who had moved to the UK from Sydney. Booker was born in Wales.

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