It was the ultimate put down, and is now part of rugby league folklore.
The setting was Brisbane’s Lang Park, and the occasion the First Test of Great Britain’s tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1974.
Australian Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam was the special guest, with Queensland Rugby League chairman, Senator Ron McAuliffe basking in the glory of having the PM by his side. (Both were Labor men).
Whitlam, whose Government was on the nose with the electorate, was to meet the players from both sides, and as he took the field, the ground announcer official announced the great man’s presence.
The chorus of boos that followed, continued for the entire process of hand shaking and small talk down the two lines of players.
After those formalities, Whitlam and McAuliffe were walking back to the grandstand to further insults from the crowd, when Whitlam turned to his host and said: “McAuliffe. If I’d known how unpopular you were in you own state, I would never have agreed to come here.”
Photo 1: Gough Whitlam meets Australian skipper, Graeme Langlands. Ron McAuliffe stands behind Langlands with team manager, Ralph Stafford to the right.
Australia won 12-6 in a boring contest, with Queensland winger, Warren Orr (Brisbane Wests) scoring the only try. Fullback and skipper, Graeme Langlands (St George) kicked four goals and centre, Bob Fulton (Manly) kicked a field goal. Prop, Terry Clawson (Oldham) and centre, David Watkins (Salford) kicked two goals and one goal respectively. The referee was Don Lancashire and the crowd 30,280.
I was there with fellow members of the Murwillumbah Brothers club.
Photo 2: Test action. Paul Sait attacks for Australia. The defenders are George Nicholls and Jim Mills.