Come on you Reds
January 13, 2011
John Eales shows the scars of a battle with New South Wales in 1999 © Getty Images
The rugby community is currently banding together in support of those affected by the devastating floods in Queensland, which left the state's showpiece venue, Suncorp Stadium, under two metres of water on Wednesday. While the Reds have been filling sandbags to protect their famous Ballymore home, pitching in with telethons and donating match payments to the cause, we've selected some of the greatest players to have worn the jersey in our latest Scrum Seven.
One of the game's greatest locks and arguably the Wallabies' finest skipper, Eales was equally brilliant in state colours. A former cricketer for Queensland University and servant of the Brothers club, his domestic feats, 122 appearances and 402 Super Rugby points as well as back-to-back Super 10 titles in 1994 and 1995, are often forgotten amid the sheer scope of his work with Australia. Their World Cup-winning captain in 1999, he won rugby's top prize twice, the first time as a youngster in 1991. He also led the Wallabies to their only Tri-Nations titles, in 2000 and 2001, and also to victory over the British & Irish Lions at the turn of the century.
Lynagh's career straddled two great periods in Australian rugby. As a 21-year-old in 1984 he played inside-centre as the majestic Mark Ella inspired the Wallabies' sole Grand Slam tour success against the Home Unions and in 1991 was pivotal in their victory over England to claim the Rugby World Cup at Twickenham. Upon his retirement from Tests in 1995 he was the world record points scorer, with 911 from 72 outings. At domestic level he wore a maroon jersey on 100 occasions, scoring 1166 points. In 1999 he was handed the No.10 jersey in the Queensland 'Team of the Century'.
Another player on this list with claims to being the best of them all in their chosen position, Horan was a devastating presence in midfield during Australia's march to the 1991 and 1999 World Cups. His two great midfield partnerships, with Jason Little and later Dan Herbert, were with fellow Reds representatives to have also clocked up over 100 state appearances. Horan battled back from a career-threatening knee injury in 1994 and was remarkably even more effective after his imposed lay-off. His career peak came at in 1999 as he was named 'Player of the Tournament' at the World Cup - an honour he was worth almost solely for his performance against South Africa in the semi-final.
One of Australia's best fullbacks, Latham moved to the Reds from their arch rivals in New South Wales early in his career and forged a successful career in Brisbane. He made his Test debut in 1998 but later starred in a Wallabies side that often struggled during the years following the 'golden generation' of Eales, Horan and co. He turned out for the Reds on 119 occasions before upping sticks in 2008 for a contract with Worcester in England. During his time with Queensland he won the Pilecki Medal for the Reds' Player of the Year on four occasions, a record, and also scopped the John Eales Medal as the Wallabies' outstanding performer in 2006.
While he may not be one of the Reds' most-celebrated players, Hardman put in a huge shift for the state during some lean years at Super Rugby level. The nuggety hooker turned out for the side on a record 148 occasions following his bow in 1999 and was consistently stubborn and difficult despite his team's obvious shortcomings elsewhere. His career never got going at international level, where he was capped four times by the Wallabies. He made his bow against France in 2002 and was a controversial call-up to their 2007 World Cup squad, where he made his final appearance in a gold jersey against Canada in the Pool stages.
Slack captained Australia to their 1984 Grand Slam, where his winning mix of thoughtful leadership and deft outside-centre play helped to inspire the Wallabies to an as-yet unrivalled feat. He made his Test bow in 1978 and was a huge presence at state level, where he won a then-record 133 caps for Queensland while representing the Souths club. In 1986 he captained the Wallabies to a prized series win over the All Blacks on New Zealand soil and led them at the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987, where their involvement was ended by Serge Blanco and France in the semi-finals. Slack played his final Test in the bronze medal loss to Wales and was later inducted into the Wallabies' Hall of Fame.
At 22, Cooper has a long career ahead of him, whether he chooses to pursue it the ranks of league or union. The Tokoroa-born fly-half exploded into life in the 2010 Super 14 season following a high-profile arrest for burglary, where under the tutelage of former Wallabies boss Ewen McKenzie and in harness with halfback partner Will Genia he delivered on his obvious promise. Currently one of the game's biggest box office draws, Cooper wrestled the Wallabies No.10 jersey from Matt Giteau at the outset of the 2010 Test season, having sent records tumbling in a Reds jersey. During last season he racked up a franchise-record 171 points and also broke Elton Flatley's mark for most points in a Super Rugby game with his two tries, three conversions and five penalties in 31 points against the Crusaders.
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