While modern day NRL players Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis and Sam Thaiday have made it into the Australian rugby league’s Indigenous Team of the Century; shock omissions included former flyer’s: Ricky Walford and Larry Corrowa. League’s first ever Aboriginal player, George Green, taking the field for Eastern suburbs at the games birth in 1908, made the squad with the likes of Wally McArthur, who played the majority of his Rugby League career in England notching up 4 tries for a Rest of the World team.
Frank King Fisher, the grandfather of athletics great Cathy Freeman and regarded as the Aboriginal version of Wally Lewis, was selected after representing Wide Bay against touring Great Britain sides in the 1930s.
Fisher was denied the opportunity to tour with the Kangaroos when he was refused a passport to pursue a his career overseas. The Indigenous Team of the Century was announced to fans at half time during tonight’s NRL clash between the Bulldogs and Cowboys.
The teams is: Eric Simms, Lionel Morgan, Steve Renouf, Greg Inglis, Dale Shearer, Laurie Daley, Johnathan Thurston, Sam Backo, Mal Cochrane, Arthur Beetson, Gorden Tallis, Sam Thaiday, Cliff Lyons, George Green, Wally McArthur, Frank Fisher, John Ferguson.
Queensland and Australian prop Sam Backo was overwhelmed by his selection. “I was happy to play for my state and my country but to get this recognition, not only from your peers, but the people, is a very special honour,” Backo said.
Thurston, who recognises his heritage by using a mouth guard with the colours of his people, described his selection as a “huge honour”.
“Representing your people and your family, it’s a very proud moment in my career,” said the currently injured Cowboys captain.