SIX former Australian players of various vintages were at Tamworth’s Viaduct Rugby Park yesterday as part of the Rugby True Colours Tour.
All had played Test football for the Wallabies or toured with Australian teams and all had a connection to the region.
Barraba’s Bill McKid and Quirindi’s Dave Carter played for Australia and their respective Central North clubs and both still live in those communities.
Moree’s Brian Mansfield represented Australia, the Bulls and Tamworth.
Ollie Hall toured Italy and France with the Wallabies in 1983 and played for Scone at the end of his career and now lives in Scone while Neil Latimer, who played one Test against New Zealand in 1957, lives just out of Tamworth. Latimer’s son Ben played first grade with the Magpies until a few weeks ago.
Tamworth’s Denis O’Callaghan toured the British Isles and Canada with the Australian side in 1966-67 before playing rugby league with St George.
His son Tim plays with the Pirates and Denis also coached the Buccaneers in 1976.
O’Callaghan said he reckoned the Wallabies could “give the World Cup a shake” as he sat next to Bill McKid signing autographs for a long line of school children yesterday.
“The forwards are going to have to improve and dominate the game.
“That’s where it all starts. Bill (McKid) will tell you that. He’s a back but he still understands all that,” O’Callaghan said with a chuckle.
McKid, in good form, piped back: “It’s pretty easy to blame the forwards.”
McKid drew attention to the near quarter century of service given by Barraba and former NSW player Geoff White.
White broke a leg in a recent clash with Tamworth, although McKid wouldn’t be surprised to see the man known as “Horse” back in the green and white.
“I didn’t know he was finished yet,” McKid said.
“I wouldn’t write him off but if it is the end of an era I don’t blame him for retiring after what happened.
“He’s certainly had a fantastic career and has been a mainstay of Barraba for the past 20 years. We’ll see what happens. He’s not gone yet.”
Brian Mansfield paid tribute to the play of the Moree Bulls in their recent 72 match-winning streak in the Central North
“They had the people and the attitude and that was a very hard level to sustain for that period of time. Bill (McKid) and Barraba did something similar (four CN titles in a row) in the 1980s when he was running the show.”
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