Easts’ 1983 Premiership side

Easts’ 1983 Premiership side
Shane McNally watches as Easts’ teammate, Bruce McLeod charges into the Valleys’ defence at Langlands Park

Shane McNally always gave a 100 percent effort to the game of rugby league career, whether as a player, coach or administrator.
As a player he represented Queensland, and won a Brisbane First Grade Premiership with Easts. As a coach, he earned praise for his efforts in the BRL and Queensland Cup, as well as England’s Super League. In administration, he worked tirelessly to further the cause of senior and junior football in Queensland.Shane McNally has died, aged 69, while holidaying with family in Canada, his passing coming just weeks before he was due to celebrate the 40th anniversary of two his greatest moments in football.
On September 18, 1983, McNally played prop forward for Easts in their 14-6 win over Redcliffe in the Brisbane Grand Final, in front of a crowd of 25,000 at Lang Park. The senior member of an outstanding young pack, he kicked three goals, and was staunch in mid-field. Three weeks later, he was on the plane to England with the Queensland side, coached by Arthur Beetson, and captained by another future ‘Immortal’, Wally Lewis.
It was the first time a Queensland side had made a Northern Hemisphere tour, with the Maroons defeating Wigan and Leeds, after suffering a first-up loss to Hull Kingston Rovers. McNally kicked 11 goals in those two victories, and played in the unfamiliar position of hooker.
The tour spot was belated recognition for McNally, who had represented Queensland Country, from the Gatton club, in 1978. Country, coached by QRL stalwart, John ‘Cracker’ McDonald, defeated City 19-10 at Lang Park.
McNally began his senior career with Brisbane Norths at Bishop Park, but then switched to Wests Panthers. He was the star of Wests’ win over Wynnum-Manly in the 1976 Reserve Grade Grand Final at Lang Park, with Don Oxenham the coach. Wests also won the First Grade title that day, with Test winger, Wayne Stewart the goal kicker.
A ‘toe-poker’, McNally could land goals from all over the park, and his accuracy was legendary. In a State League match in Toowoomba in 1982, he landed seven goals from seven shots in difficult conditions, just a week after kicking eight from eight against Central Queensland. McNally was part of the Easts’ side which won the inaugural State League in 1982, under the coaching of former Test hooker, John Lang.Easts’ 1983 Premiership side, also coached by Lang, contributed seven players to Queensland’s touring side to England – McNally, Cavill Heugh, Trevor Paterson, Gavin Jones, Larry Brigginshaw, Steve Stacey and Wayne Lindenberg. McNally was a late inclusion in the side, following the withdrawal of Greg Conescu because of stress fractures to the right foot.
One of McNally’s best club games in 1983 came against the star studded Valley Diehards at Lang Park, in the Match of the Day, on July 24. McNally kicked five goals in the 30-10 victory, which featured spectacular attack and shuddering defence.Halfback, Wayne Lindenberg was the chief destroyer, but McNally showed the way in the forwards, allowing youngsters such as Gavin Jones, Brett Le Man and Trevor Paterson to shine. 
When McNally retired as a player at the end of the 1984 season – after 107 top grade games for Easts – he took up coaching, and in 1987 was in charge of Easts First Grade in the last season of the BRL’s ‘golden era’, before the birth of the Brisbane Broncos. He had coached Easts’ reserves in 1986, with officials rewarding his “thorough and professional approach” by appointing him to the top post.
In England, McNally coached Wakefield Trinity from 2002 to 2005, taking the famous West Yorkshire Club to the finals in 2004.
He coached Wynnum-Manly in the Queensland Cup in 63 games from 2007 to 2009, making the finals in 2008. He also coached BRL representative sides.
McNally worked as a regional co-ordinator for the QRL from 2009 to 2011, before taking on the role of Operations Manager for the Brisbane Juniors. In 2014 he was appointed the QRL’s South East Division Manager, a position he held for five years. He had been coaching director at Easts Carina since 2019.Footnote: I had many dealings with Shane as a sports journalist, when he was playing, and later when he was coaching. The last interview I did with him – in 2012 – was about a crowd incident at a junior league match. He was in charge of the Brisbane Juniors.
Shane loved his time coaching Wakefield in England, and it broke his heart when the club sacked him, after all the good work he had done. But that’s England. Whether its soccer or rugby league, coaches (or managers) are even more expendable than here in Australia.

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1 thought on “VALE SHANE McNALLY

  1. I played in the under 15 and under 16 Northern Suburbs Devils team in the BRL A grade junior division with Shane & I recall him being an excellent player & wonderful team mate. He was a very big fella even in those days as a junior & had huge thighs not dissimilar to John Sattler even back then so I was not surprised to see he became a front row forward later in his career. He was also a brilliant goal kicker & even at 14 years could kick goals easily from the halfway line. Shane’s dad was our runner or trainer with the “magic sponge.” I noticed Steve you made a reference that Shane was not usually a hooker but he played a lot of his junior football in that very position when hookers were expected to win a scrum fed by their half back & he invariably did & not as it is in today’s game where the player feeds the ball past the second row as has been the case for so long. I believe Shane was a product of Banyo High School which was a strong team in the Brisbane High School’s competition. That particular North’s team was exceptional & from memory went on to win every premiership from under 10’s to under 18’s with surprisingly only a handful of our players making it into the BRL A grade competition. I am saddened by Shane’s death at the age of 69. A great bloke & footballer gone too soon. RIP Shane.

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