Redcliffe rugby league fans were left stunned by the news their fiery former State fullback, Tony Obst would play with 1981 wooden spooners, Brothers in 1982.
Originally from Longreach, Obst had spent 13 seasons with Redcliffe, with his last match the heart breaking last minute loss to Souths in the 1981 grand final.
Obst was one of the most respected – and feared – players in the BRL. In 1980 he won the prestigious Rothmans Gold Medal and Courier-Mail Best and Fairest awards, the former judged by referees, the latter by journalists.
Brothers’ fans regarded Obst as ‘public enemy number one’ after he stiff armed young Test centre, Mark Thomas with a high shot in a 1977 premiership match at Lang Park. Thomas was carried from the field by teammates, Noel Russell and Paul Beauchamp while Obst was sent off by referee, Ian Smith.
Redcliffe president, Dick ‘Tosser’ Turner wished Obst well, saying he probably needed a new challenge.
In other major signing news, former Test fullback, Gary Dowling signed with Gold Coast team, Burleigh Bears on a one year deal.
Dowling, player of the series for the Kangaroos in New Zealand in 1980, moved to the Coast from Sydney club, Wests to pursue business interests, but said he had not given up on rep footy, and hoped to be considered for the new Gold Coast Vikings State League side, Queensland Country and ultimately New South Wales and Australia.
Burleigh Bears coach was former Queensland fullback, Tony Scott while the Vikings were to be coached by another former top fullback – Peter Inskip.
Kentucky Fried Chicken announced they would sponsor seven of the 14 (Winfield) State league sides – Souths, Wests, Brothers, Redcliffe, Wide Bay, North Queensland and Toowoomba for a combined total of $132,500, with ‘Colonel Sanders’ head to feature on the front of the jerseys. Valleys later announced Avco Finance would be their sponsors.
(While the KFC sponsorship proved a marketing coup, it was a disaster in a practical football sense with the plastic colonel’s head making it difficult for players to hang on to the ball in the humid, early season conditions. The Adidas footballs also were criticised by players as being like cakes of soap).
Redcliffe coach, Arthur Beetson was re-appointed coach of the Brisbane representative side.
In an early season blow to Wynnum-Manly, Test prop, Rod Morris announced he would retire, after it was thought he would join the Seagulls following three seasons with Balmain in Sydney. Wynnum were coached by Rod’s older brother, Des.
Rod had been a regular in Australian sides since making his debut during the 1977 World Cup.
He said he could not get motivated for another long season, involving a (Woolies) pre-season competition; the state league and then the Brisbane premiership. Ultimately he would come out of retirement, following the state league, and lead Wynnum to their first BRL title. He then embarked on his second Kangaroo tour of Britain and France, hanging up the boots for good afterwards.