Great Britain five eighth, Shaun Edwards made an impressive Sydney rugby league debut for Balmain in the Tigers’ 12-2 win over a gutsy Gold Coast Seagulls’ outfit at Leichhardt Oval.
Only 36 hours in the country, Edwards was sharp and skilful, adding a new dimension to the Tigers’ attack. Taking over from the injured Ben Elias, Edwards kicked well for the line and set up the match clinching try for Test forward, Paul Sironen.
Referee, Graeme West sent Balmain prop, Steve Roach and Giants’ forward, Jim Cowell to the bin after a tussle between the two firebrands.
Other ‘Poms’ were due in Sydney, at the end of the British season, most significantly, Ellery Hanley to play for Wests. (Others had already arrived, such as Hugh Waddell at Manly and Kelvin Skerrett at Wests).
At the annual Ross Livermore Memorial Lecture at QRL Central on May 18, 2019, guest speaker, Michael Hagan recalled doing the coin toss with Hanley, before a match, with Hagan skipper of Newcastle Knights and Hanley captain of Wests.
“Ellery wasn’t wearing a jersey, and when I looked at his amazing physique, I thought, we’re gone here,” Hagan said, only half jokingly.
Hagan had played against Hanley in England a few years earlier, when Hagan was playing for Halifax and Hanley for Bradford Northern.
My wife, Marie and I had dinner with Ellery and his lady (of the time) at British photographer, Andrew Varley and his wife, Julie’s house at Sherborne-in-Elmet, Yorkshire in 1989, and Ellery certainly treated his body like a temple.
Photo 1: Shaun Edwards
Photo 2: Ellery Hanley, playing for Wigan, leap frogs Mike Smith from Hull KR (Photos Andrew Varley).