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Tuesday, 20 September 1983
Page: 1032


Mr MacKELLAR(10.30) —In the adjournment debate tonight I wish to raise a matter of national and in fact international importance. I am talking about the game they play in heaven. We all know that the game they play in heaven is the mighty rugby union. What I want to speak about tonight is the fact that after 33 years the Mighty Blues, the Manly Rugby Union Club, has won the grand final, the premiership of New South Wales, in an absolutely spirited and courageous performance last Saturday. There has been a lot of criticism by various clubs. I notice the Minister for Trade (Mr Lionel Bowen) is leaving the chamber. I can understand that as Randwick was beaten in three grand finals on Saturday. But the fact is that there has been a lot of criticism of the Manly Club over recent years about the approach adopted by that Club in the recruitment of players. I just want to point out to those who make that criticism that club spirit cannot be bought. The fact is that the ones won the grand final; the twos were in the preliminary final, as were the threes; the fours were in the semi-final and the fives were joint premiers. It was a magnificent performance by this Club which has a great tradition in Sydney rugby union and has in fact supplied a great number of magnificent players to Australia over the years.

At this stage I just want to pay a tribute to the administrators of the Manly Rugby Union Club. The fact that I happen to be the patron of the Club may bear some small relationship to this. I am extremely proud of being the patron of the Club. I point out that I did not play for Manly and because of that it took them a long time to ask me to be patron. But, quite seriously, I am enormously proud to be associated with a group of people who are not only just a tribute to the game but also who have put a great deal into the civic life of Manly. The Club President and his fellow administrators have pursued a policy of involving the Club right throughout the civic organisation and civic community in Manly, which I think has paid off.

In talking of previous coaches, I mention the famous Slaggie Miller, who has played more test matches for Australia than any other player; Mr Taylor, who is coaching the junior team for Australia; and Mr Bob Lane, who was a previous coach for the Manly Rugby Union Club and has performed a magnificent service in difficult circumstances and in fact gee'd up the club before the grand final to make sure that all supporters were in the right place. Of course, I refer also to Mr Alan Jones, the successful coach after 33 years. Members of this House will be well aware of Mr Jones, who performed such a sterling service for the previous Prime Minister and now is performing the same service for the Manly Rugby Union Club by coaching it successfully.

I should not particularise by naming the people who were involved in the grand final. Suffice it to say that the Manly Club, with at that stage one international player, took on the might of Randwick with five international players and in fact was successful in the grand final. I say that the Manly team had one international player at that stage because I am enormously pleased, as are all followers of rugby, that Mr Ollie Hall, that gentle little giant from the bush who has come to play for Manly, has now been selected to play for the Australian team when it tours through Italy and France in just a couple of weeks time. I know that my colleague from Queensland will applaud the selection of Mr Hall because he is taking the place of Mr Stan Pilecki, another gentle soul who has been a great force for Australia in many ways on the rugby field.

Quite seriously, it was a great privilege to see stalwarts of the game, people who have represented Australia on the rugby pitches throughout the world and who have not only been players but administrators, coaches and referees-I speak of people like Harold Tolhurst, Ron Walden, Sid Malcolm and people who have been an ornament to the game and to this country-join in with all those other members of the rugby sporting fraternity in congratulating a team which has rebounded upon those critics who said that it could not handle the tough stuff. In fact it took on the might of Sydney rugby union and turned back the galloping greens last Saturday. I finish by saying that we have the opportunity for a unique double because next Sunday the Manly Sea Eagles take on Parramatta. I notice that the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown) is not in the chamber tonight. I can understand that he is very worried about the composition of his team. If we can achieve that double it will be a truly unique thing and the peninsula will ring throughout the night.


Mr SPEAKER —I only regret that the honourable member could not give a commercial for Robert Walls's fine effort with Fitzroy Football Club in Melbourne this season.