Test forward, Elton Rasmussen scored the try of the match for Wide Bay in their thrilling 22-21 loss to Ipswich in the (Queensland) State rugby league trials at Lang Park.
Rasmussen, who joined St George in Sydney the following year, showed great pace to burst clear of the ruck and outpace the cover, before stepping around Ipswich fullback, Bill Cameron. The then 24-year-old Maryborough born star had had a quiet first half, but cut loose in the second.
Halfback, Rod Kerr scored two tries for ‘Bay’, the first set-up by the hardest working forward on the field, Brian Wogandt. Another prominent Wide Bay forward was Norm Meninga, whose son, Mal, a future ‘Immortal’, was born in Bundaberg the previous year.
Ipswich skipper, Test forward, Gary Parcell impressed, despite it being his first match in five weeks, because of injury. Lock, Jim Foreman was the best of the Ipswich forwards, while five eighth, Don Barrett and centre, Merv Cobb, who had just returned from a stint in England, were the pick of the backs, with Cobb scoring two tries.
Central Queensland, coached by Des Crowe, provided one of the upsets of the trials with a 18-15 win over Toowoomba. Brilliantly led by Ollie Smith, CQ outplayed the ‘Downsmen’ at their own traditional brand of supporting the ball carrier, at all costs. The Courier-Mail’s Jack Reardon rated Smith the most constructive forward of the trials.
Toowoomba lost star five eighth, Johnny Gleeson in the second half, when he dived onto an opponent’s boot. The cover defence of Toowoomba lock, Bob Duncan often drew enthusiastic applause from the crowd of 15,502.
The other major upset of the trials was North Queensland’s 23-22 win over Brisbane, with the northerners superbly led by five eighth, Bobby Banks, who was ably supported by fellow Test star, prop, Jim Paterson.
Centres, Alan Gil and Ron Tait had too much firepower for Brisbane rivals, Bob Hagan and Bill McDermott.
‘Super coach’, Bob Bax, writing in The Sunday-Mail, said Hagan deserved another chance, but McDermott ‘was out of his depth”.
The Truth’s George Long, called the northerners ‘cane-cockies’.
“For 70 minutes these ‘cockies’ dished out the forward ‘cane’ to the cocky capital city stars,” Long wrote. “I believe Brisbane’s training consisted mainly of PT exercises, with about 99 sit-ups. North Qld made it the 100, for they made ’em sit-up and take notice of a team that proved the old rugby league adage – it’s the back-up as beats ’em”.
Long described Kiwi World Cup ref., Vic Belsham as “more showman than tradesman”.
In Cairns, Innisfail caused a major upset with a 20-10 win over the home side, in front of a record crowd. Innisfail winger, George Ambrum scored two brilliant tries.
In Sydney, Eastern Suburbs winger, Bob Landers made headlines when he suggested the knock-on rule should be scrapped, as in Australian rules, to speed up the game. A former St Josephs College rugby union star, Landers also suggested the referees feed the scrums.
Meanwhile, former Great Britain star, Phil Jackson was appointed coach of the New South Wales Country side to play City at the SCG. Jackson was player-coach at Goulburn Workers. Former Australian forward, Noel Mulligan was appointed coach of Country Seconds.
The Victorian Rugby League competition kicked off with eight clubs – St Kilda, Laverton, Moorabbin, Northern Suburbs, Richmond, Point Cook, Tottenham, East Sale and Railways. In 1960, the Victorian rep. side played a match at Bathurst.
In England, Wigan had done so well with crowds and revenue, they either had to spend heavily on new players or pay heavy income tax. Not a bad predicament to be in.