VALE ROBERT ORCHARD

New Zealand Test representative, Robert Orchard made Queensland his home in 1973, and played for his adopted State from the Redcliffe Dolphins.

Orchard, who died on March 10 aged 74, was one of eight brothers from a Bay of Plenty rugby league family, with younger brother, Phil named in the New Zealand Team of the Century in 2007.
Robert and Phil toured Britain and France with the Kiwis in 1971-72, with New Zealand returning as unofficial world champions, after having won the Test series against both countries, following a convincing win over Australia in 1971.
It was the second Northern Hemisphere tour for Robert, who played 18 Tests, between 1965 and 1972. He also represented New Zealand Maori.
Orchard played 18 matches on each of the northern hemisphere tours.
Robert was a skilful player, but also uncompromising. In 1967, in the Second Test against Australia at Lang Park, Orchard was sent off by referee, Col Pearce, just 90 seconds into the match, after he flattened Australian five eighth, Johnny Gleeson from the Brisbane Brothers club. Australian prop, Noel Kelly also was given his marching orders, after he flattened Orchard, in retribution.
In his final Test for the Kiwis, against Australia at the SCG, in 1972, Orchard kicked four goals in the 36-11 loss. He was dropped for the return clash in Brisbane, with Wellington’s Robert Paul taking his place.
I interviewed the ’72 Kiwis at Coolangatta Airport, after that Sydney Test loss, and they looked a despondent crew.
Orchard and former boxer, Bevan Bleakley were props for Redcliffe in their 15-7 loss to Valleys in the 1973 Brisbane grand final.
Earlier that year, Orchard and former Australian skipper, John Sattler (Brisbane Wests) were props for Queensland in two inter-state matches against New South Wales.
Orchard later played and coached at a variety of centres in Queensland, including Mt Isa, Mackay and Gympie, and also returned to Brisbane for a stint with Wynnum-Manly.
His funeral was held on March 13.

Robert Orchard (second from left, back row) in the 1973 Queensland team.

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