FLASHBACK: January 1986

The damage being done to the Brisbane competition by Sydney raids was graphically illustrated by The Courier-Mail’s list of Gains and Losses for the nine clubs.

With the help of the Queensland Rugby League’s war chest, top rung players like Wally Lewis, Gene Miles, Greg Dowling, Colin Scott, Bob Lindner, Ian French, Mark Murray, Bryan Niebling, Greg Conescu, Wally Fullerton Smith and Joe Kilroy remained in the BRL.

And there were some handy signings by several clubs, although some had yet to reach star status.

For instance, Valleys signed future Test forward, Gary Larson from Gladstone, while Brothers’ lured utility star, Peter Gill from Toowoomba. Giant Kiwi prop, Peter Brown signed with Souths from Auckland.

But have a look at these significant losses to Sydney clubs.

Norths: Steve Walters (Canberra), Trevor Gillmeister (Roosters).

Souths: Mal Meninga, Gary Belcher (Canberra), John Elias (Canterbury).

Easts: Martin Bella (North Sydney), Gavin Jones, Trevor Paterson (Roosters).

Wynnum-Manly: Gary Coyne (Canberra), Brett French, Terry Butler (North Sydney).

Redcliffe: Dave Trewhella (Roosters).

Brothers: Henry Foster (Penrith), Tim Dwyer (Manly).

Valleys: Les Kiss (North Sydney).

Brothers’ coach, Ross Strudwick will tell you he was happy to lose halfback, Foster and several other players, including Glenn Haggath and the late Pat Shepherdson  (who signed with Ipswich Jets) because they did not suit his style of play.

Ipswich, who had been playing in the state league, made their BRL debut in 1986 with former Brothers’ coach, Tom Raudonikis (the former Test halfback) as coach.

Besides Haggath and Shepherdson, Ipswich’s other major Brisbane imports were Shane McCarthy (Brothers), Bob Kellaway (Souths), Ray Kelly (Easts) and Brett Walters (Norths). Walters was returning to Ipswich where he started his career with Booval Swifts.

English clubs also nabbed a few players, most notably Campbell Dews (Norths to Keighley), James Sandy and Cavill Heugh (Easts to Castleford).

Martin Bella playing for the Australian Rugby League under-18 side against Great Britain in a youth international at Lang Park.

Martin Bella playing for the Australian Rugby League under-18 side against Great Britain in a youth international at Lang Park.

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