The omission of Valleys’ centre, Mick Retchless was the big talking point following the naming of the Queensland side after the ‘Queensland’ v ‘The Rest’ state trial at Lang Park.
The Courier-Mail’s Jack Reardon said the State selectors – Ralph Ross, Dud Beattie, Danny Tanner, Des Crow and Hugh Kelly – had got it right ‘for once’, with the exception of ‘Captain Blood’ Retchless, not getting the inside centre spot.
Reardon said the chosen centres, Rob ‘Yogi’ Thompson and Ron Beauchamp were a smart, competent pair, and he would have had one at outside centre, with Retchless inside.
Newcastle product, Graham Tucker, who was based in Toowoomba with the RAAF, was chosen at five eighth. Former Balmain forward, Geoff Connell was named captain. But Connell was a fair dinkum Queenslander, having been born in the west of the state.
Connell captained ‘Queensland’ in the state trial, while Retchless was in charge of ‘The Rest’. State selector, Crow was official coach of both sides and at one stage they were training together (strange times). But Connell insisted his squad train on a separate field, because they were working on several secret moves.
One of the wingers for ‘The Rest’, was Australian beach sprint champion, Greg Lawson, who was chosen despite not having played a first grade match that season.
Reardon questioned the worth of these State trials, saying they often fell short of the big match practice required. Jack was ahead of his time.
A week before the Qld v Rest match, the state championships had been held at Lang Park.
One of the best contests was Toowoomba’s 8-6 win over North Queensland, with a goal by winger, John Cowley proving the difference. Toowoomba’s best were centre, Ron Beauchamp and fullback, Pat McCarthy, while for NQ Alan Tsakissaris and Graham Lena were in fine touch.
News broke that Brothers’ Test forward, Dennis Manteit had re-signed with the club on a five year deal, BUT —earlier in the year, Manteit had accepted an offer from Sydney club, Canterbury-Bankstown, and even trained with the club. But Canterbury refused to pay a $12,000 transfer fee.
And there was also a report that Brisbane Wests’ fullback, Errol Stock would return to England at the end of the season. He had had one stint in the UK, with Bradford Northern, when he and fellow Rockhampton product, Garth Budge accepted a deal at the Yorkshire outfit.
Ipswich treasurer, Jack Lynch was appointed co-manager of the Australian team to tour New Zealand later in 1969. The other manager was former top forward, Eddie Burns from Sydney.
The Qld team chosen to play New South Wales in the first game of the 1969 inter-state series, was: Ray Laird; Jeff Denman, Rob Thompson, Ron Beauchamp, Brian McDonald; Graham Tucker, Col Reynolds; Col Weiss, Geoff Connell (c), Ian Robson, Dennis Manteit, Brian Fitzsimmons, Trevor Neibling. Res: Barry Dowling, Mick Retchless, Rod Morris, Gary Pearson.
Photo 1: Mick Retchless (left), Steve Ricketts, Barry Muir (standing) and Ian ‘Ripper’ Doyle at launch of Lang Park book in 1995. Muir and Doyle were Test players.
Photo 2: Hugh Kelly.