As the NRL charges into the 2015 season, much is being made of the Fijian influence, with a number of crowd pleasers from the Pacific nation grabbing their share of the headlines.
England experienced a similar Fijian ‘invasion’ in the 1960s, with the Rochdale Hornets’ club the main beneficiary.
And in January, 1970, Brisbane fans were excited by the prospect of seeing razzle dazzle football from three Fijian rugby union internationals signed by Souths Magpies.
Souths’ Fijian excitement machines were winger, Asaeli Batibasaga and forwards, Moritekei Nabuta and Isoa Volavola.
Nabuta’s sign-on fee was to be remitted to his wife and family in Fiji each week for the first of his two seasons.
The following month Souths signed a fourth Fijian, Amenatave Gutugutuwai. The Magpies had approached Batibasga, but the other players approached Souths.
Gutugutuwai had played rugby union for Fiji against the Wallabies, All Blacks and Wales in the 1968 and ’69 seasons.
Transfer fees were all the rage in those days and there were some bitter disputes between the Queensland and New South Wales Leagues.
Brisbane Easts’ Test forward, Geoff Connell was keen to return to Balmain in Sydney, but the QRL whacked a hefty $7,000 fee on his head. Balmain, the reigning premiers, indicated they would appeal.
Ultimately the New South Wales dominated Australian Rugby League Board of Control ruled the QRL had no right to impose such a fee on a player returning to his old club.
A Transfer Appeals Board operated in Brisbane, and in January, 1970 they considered a number of cases.
Here are some:
Peter Leis, Redcliffe to Wests, $2,000 reduced to $400; Eric Lilley, Wynnum to Norths, $1500 to $350; Graham Lena, Ingham to Brisbane Brothers, $1500 to $450; Peter Luppi, Souths Cairns to Wests Brisbane, $1500 to $550; Peter Connell, Valleys Toowoomba to Gundagai, $1,000 to $200; Allan Henrick, Norths Brisbane to Redcliffe, $100 to free.
In other news, former Test halfback, Barry Muir signed as captain-coach of Ayr Colts in the Burdekin League. Muir was returning from a two year ban for spitting at referee, Dale Coogan in a Brisbane club match, a penalty local referees thought totally inadequate.
Muir would finish his playing career the following year as captain coach of Tweed Seagulls, the club where his career began.
Peter Leis in action for Redcliffe