by Steve Ricketts, Chairman, Queensland Rugby League History Committee.
Bob Duncan was tipped as a future State star when he first burst onto the representative scene with Toowoomba in 1960.
The then 22-year-old went on to play 10 matches for Queensland, and was chosen as a reserve for the Australian team, for the Second Test of the 1962 home series against Great Britain – at Brisbane’s Lang Park – alongside fellow Queensland star, Frank Drake. The Australian team was captained by Welsh born fullback, Keith Barnes.
In addition to a distinguished club career in Toowoomba, with Newtown, Duncan also made his mark in Brisbane, with Norths.
Duncan died at Cooroy on April 4, aged 84, with his funeral taking place at Caloundra on April 16.
With Duncan at lock, Toowoomba won the 1960 Bulimba Cup (inter-city) competition, which also featured Brisbane and Ipswich.
Toowoomba won the first match against Brisbane that year, 26-15, at Lang Park, with speed in attack and stern defence a feature of the victory.
“Outstanding in the Toowoomba line-up were 22-year-old forward, Bob Duncan and 20-year-old centre, Alan Gill,” The Courier-Mail’s Jack Reardon wrote, in his match report. “Duncan’s speed in cover defence; his ability to stop wingers with hard driving tackles and his splendid knowledge of positional play in attack and defence, stamped him as a definite State prospect this year.”
Duncan had to wait until the following season to make his Queensland debut, against New South Wales at the Sydney Cricket Ground. In the following two seasons, he played six more matches against New South Wales and one each against Great Britain, New Zealand and South Africa.
Duncan joined Norths in 1966. Always exceptionally fit, he did a good job for the Devils during some of their most successful years, adding depth to an already formidable pack.
He was a member of the 1966 Premiership winning squad, playing in Norths’ 14-10 win over Brothers in the major semi-final, with Johnny Bates preferred for the grand final, which Norths won 9-6, also against Brothers. Duncan played lock in the 1967 grand-final, a try-less affair, which Brothers won 6-2, in front of the first 30,000 plus crowd for a Brisbane Grand-Final, with the official attendance 31,470.
Duncan filled a captain-coach role in Rockhampton, before his retirement as a player. He continued to be involved in rugby league through Valleys’ Juniors. Much of Bob’s working life was spent as a plumbing industry, sales representative.
Duncan, who was pre-deceased by his wife, Barbara, is survived by his children, Glenn, Bradley, Andrew, Kerri-Lyn and their families. A minute’s silence was observed for Bob Duncan and Tom Raudonikis (a former Brothers captain-coach and coach in addition to coaching Norths) ahead of Brothers’ home match against Brighton Roosters at Gibson Park, and also at Norths’ Intrust Super Cup home game against Townsville Blackhawks at Bishop Park, on April 10.
Bob’s son, Andrew played for London Broncos, and represented Scotland (a 22-20 loss to France in Glasgow) under the grandparent rule, in 1997, with George Fairbairn the coach. Andrew also played for Easts and Norths in Brisbane, and later was heavily involved with Brothers’ Juniors.
Footnote. Bob Duncan did not take the field in the Second Test of the 1962 series against Britain, with the Colin Hutton coached tourists winning 17-10, to retain the Ashes. That was the only time he was selected for his country, and because he was not awarded a ‘cap’, he is not recognised in the official list of Australian internationals.
The Queensland Rugby League History Committee is lobbying for a separate category to recognise these men, given they went into camp with Australian sides; received the full kit, and featured in official team photographs. They, in effect, represented Australia.
1 Bob Duncan
2 Toowoomba’s champion 1960 Bulimba Cup side. Bob Duncan is wearing the number 8 jersey.