1990 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain and France

The 1990 Kangaroo Tour was the seventeenth Kangaroo Tour, where the Australian national rugby league team (known as the XXXX Kangaroos due to sponsorship reasons) travelled to Europe and played eighteen matches against British and French club and representative rugby league teams, in addition to three Test matches against Great Britain and two Tests against the French. It followed the tour of 1986 and the next was staged in 1994.

This series was the closest the British team came to reclaiming The Ashes since last winning in Australia in 1970. Great Britain won the first Test at Wembley Stadium and in the second Test at Old Trafford in Manchester the match was tied at 10-all until the final minutes when Australia scored a late try to win the game. Australia then went on to easily win the third and deciding Test and retain The Ashes. Australia won both Test series against Great Britain and France, suffering one loss (against Great Britain in the first Test), and remaining undefeated in tour matches against British clubs in a streak stretching back to midway through the 1978 tour.

The 17th Kangaroo tour was televised back to Australia on the Ten Network with commentary provided by Graeme Hughes and David Morrow. Also joining the commentary team at various stages, including the second Ashes Test at Old Trafford, were then Manly-Warringah coach and former New Zealand Kiwis coach Graham Lowe, and the captain of 1986 Kangaroos, Wally Lewis. The Channel 10 coverage was sponsored by Just Jeans. The ABC televised the tests against France with Warren Boland providing commentary.

The squad's leadership

The team was coached by Bob Fulton making his third Kangaroo Tour, though his first as coach (Fulton had captained the Kangaroos on his previous tour as a player in 1978). Mal Meninga was making a record third consecutive tour and his first as captain, while NSW captain Benny Elias (making his second tour) was named as the tours vice-captain. As per custom, the Australian Rugby League appointed two tour managers, one each from the Queensland and New South Wales rugby leagues. Former Kangaroo captain Keith Barnes was team manager from NSW, while Les Stokes was the manager from Qld.

Other staff included trainers Shaun McRae (who also acted as Fulton's assistant coach), Brian "The Sheriff" Hollis, and World Champion boxing trainer Johnny Lewis as team conditioner. Manly-Warringah club doctor Nathan Gibbs, a former South Sydney and Parramatta forward who had retired from playing in 1984 to concentrate on his medical studies, was team doctor. Gibbs made the controversial decision during the selection medicals to rule Kangaroo stalwart and likely captain Wally Lewis unfit for the tour and thus unable to make a third consecutive tour alongside Meninga.

Touring squad

Player Club Position(s) Tests Games Tries Goals F/Goals Points
Greg Alexander Penrith Panthers Fullback, Halfback, Wing 4 17 14 50 156
Gary Belcher Canberra Raiders Fullback 5 11 6 1 1 27
Martin Bella Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Prop 1 11 0
Mark Carroll South Sydney Rabbitohs Second-row, Prop 0 6 2 8
John Cartwright Penrith Panthers Second-row 1 9 1 4
Laurie Daley Canberra Raiders Five-eighth, Centre 3 6 0
Ben Elias (vc) Balmain Tigers Hooker 4 10 2 8
Andrew Ettingshausen Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Wing, Centre 5 12 15 60
Brad Fittler Penrith Panthers Centre, Five-eighth, Lock 0 8 8 32
Mark Geyer Penrith Panthers Second-row 1 11 4 16
David Gillespie Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Second-row, Prop 3 10 1 4
Michael Hancock Brisbane Broncos Wing 1 6 4 16
Des Hasler Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Halfback, Lock, Wing 4 13 3 12
Chris Johns Brisbane Broncos Wing, Centre 1 11 4 16
Allan Langer Brisbane Broncos Halfback 1 11 4 16
Glenn Lazarus Canberra Raiders Prop 5 13 2 8
Bob Lindner Western Suburbs Magpies Lock, Second-row 4 10 2 8
Cliff Lyons Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Five-eighth, Centre 4 8 3 12
Brad Mackay St George Dragons Lock 4 12 4 16
Mal Meninga (c) Canberra Raiders Centre 5 11 8 16 64
Mark McGaw Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Centre 1 6 1 4
Steve Roach Balmain Tigers Prop 5 10 2 8
Mark Sargent Newcastle Knights Prop 3 11 6 1 25
Dale Shearer Brisbane Broncos Wing, Centre 5 13 9 1 38
Paul Sironen Balmain Tigers Second-row 5 10 3 12
Ricky Stuart Canberra Raiders Halfback, Five-eighth 5 9 1 5
Kerrod Walters Brisbane Broncos Hooker 1 8 2 8
Kevin Walters Brisbane Broncos Five-eighth, Halfback, Centre 0 8 5 20

By club

The touring side was represented by 18 New South Welshmen (N) and 10 Queenslanders (Q).

Mal Meninga was making his third Kangaroo Tour having also toured in 1982 and 1986. Greg Alexander, Gary Belcher, Martin Bella, Ben Elias, Des Hasler, Bob Lindner, Steve Roach, Dale Shearer and Paul Sironen were all 1986 tourists. For the rest of the squad it was their first ever Kangaroo Tour.

The Kangaroos went away with four club halfbacks in the squad. Test incumbent Allan Langer; Canberra's former Wallaby and dual premiership winning half Ricky Stuart; and former test halfbacks Des Hasler and Greg Alexander - though Hasler's ability to play almost anywhere in the backline as well as the back row, saw him as the team's utility player while Alexander would play most of the tour as backup fullback to Gary Belcher, with two games on the wing : one against Widnes, the final tour game on the English leg; the other the second Test against France, the final game of the tour (he had also played most of the game against Castleford on the wing after replacing the injured Mark McGaw). Like Terry Lamb in 1986, Alexander was selected for every game on the tour, though unlike Lamb he did not appear in each game after not getting off the bench in the Wigan game or in the second Ashes Test.

Great Britain

The Ashes series against Great Britain saw a record aggregate crowd of 133,684 attending the Test series, easily beating the previous record of 114,883 set during the 1948–49 Kangaroo tour and was some 66,130 more than had attended the 1988 Ashes series in Australia. As with the 1982 and 1986 tours, the game against Wigan at Central Park drew the biggest club game attendance of the Kangaroo Tour with a crowd of 24,814.

The tour took place during the 1990–91 Rugby Football League season.[1][2] Bradford Northern were left off the tour itinerary after being fined by the RFL for fielding what was virtually a reserve grade side against the touring New Zealand team in 1989.

Of the 13 games the Kangaroos played in England, four of the teams (Wigan, Warrington, Castleford and Hull) were coached by Australian's while one other (St Helens) was coached by a New Zealander.

Test Venues

The three Ashes series tests took place at the following venues.

London Manchester Leeds
Wembley Stadium Old Trafford Elland Road
Capacity: 82,000 Capacity: 50,000 Capacity: 32,500

St Helens
Australia
FB1Gary Connolly
RW2Alan Hunte
CE3Tea Ropati
CE4Phil Veivers
LW5Les Quirk
SO6Jonathan Griffiths
SH7Shane Cooper (c)
PR8Jon Neill
HK9Paul Groves
PR10Kevin Ward
SR11Paul Forber
SR12Bernard Dwyer
LF13John Harrison
Substitutions:
IC14Mark Bailey
IC15George Mann
IC16Ian Connor
IC17Roy Haggerty
Coach:
Mike McLennan
FB1 Gary Belcher
RW2 Andrew Ettingshausen
CE3 Mal Meninga (c)
CE4 Mark McGaw
LW5 Michael Hancock
FE6 Laurie Daley
HB7 Allan Langer
PR8 Steve Roach
HK9 Kerrod Walters
PR10 Martin Bella
SR11 John Cartwright
SR12 Paul Sironen
LK13 Bob Lindner
Substitutions:
IC14 Chris Johns
IC15 Glenn Lazarus
IC16 Brad Mackay
IC17 Greg Alexander
Coach:
Bob Fulton

Kangaroos skipper Mal Meninga, a crowd favourite at St Helens after playing with the club in 1984–85 and helping them to win the Premiership and Lancashire Cup, returned to Knowsley Road and scored two tries, including the opening try of the tour. Andrew Ettingshausen came into the side on the wing in place of Dale Shearer who was ruled out with a stomach muscle strain, and crossed for a hat-trick of tries.[4]


Wakefield Trinity
Australia
FB1Chris Perry
RW2David Jones
CE3Phil Eden
CE4Ged Byrne
LW5Andy Mason
SO6Tracy Lazenby
SH7Mark Conway
PR8Adrian Shelford
HK9John Thompson
PR10Nigel Bell
SR11Andy Kelly (c)
SR12Nick Du Toit
LF13Gary Price
Substitutions:
IC14Richard Slater
IC15Billy Conway
IC16Andy Wilson
IC17Lynton Morris
Coach:
David Topliss
FB1 Greg Alexander
RW2 Chris Johns
CE3 Brad Fittler
CE4 Kevin Walters
LW5 Dale Shearer
FE6 Cliff Lyons
HB7 Ricky Stuart
PR8 Glenn Lazarus
HK9 Ben Elias (c)
PR10 Mark Sargent
SR11 David Gillespie
SR12 Mark Carroll
LK13 Brad Mackay
Substitutions:
IC14 Mark Geyer
IC15 Mark McGaw
IC16 Des Hasler
IC17
Coach:
Bob Fulton

Referee Kevin Allatt sent 4 players off during this game and sin binned 3 others. Sent off were John Thompson (WT), Mark Carroll (Aus), Ricky Stuart (Aus) and David Gillespie (Aus) who was actually sent off for back chatting the referee after the game had finished. Billy Conway (WT), Des Hasler and Dale Shearer (Aus) were also sent to the sin-bin during the game. In a media interview after the game, Australian coach Bob Fulton said it was something like out of Fawlty Towers and that he couldn't believe that the referee lost control. Fulton also added that the referee had told him before the game that he was 48 years old, causing the Australian coach to think that he should have been home in front of a warm fire with a cup of tea rather than refereeing a professional game of football.[6]

In English club football at the time, players sent-off during a match were required to face the RFL judiciary, including those from touring international teams. All three Kangaroos, Carroll, Stuart and Gillespie, escaped suspension from the league who agreed that the send-offs were enough punishment under the circumstances.

Penrith's Brad Fittler, who was aged 18 years and 247 days on the day of the game and just 12 months earlier had been a member of the Australian Schoolboys side, played in the centres and officially became the youngest ever Kangaroo tourist.


Wigan
Australia
FB1Steve Hampson
RW2David Myers
CE3Kevin Iro
CE4Joe Lydon
LW5David Marshall
SO6Shaun Edwards
SH7Andy Gregory
PR8Ian Lucas
HK9Martin Dermott
PR10Kelvin Skerrett
SR11Denis Betts
SR12Andy Goodway
LF13Ellery Hanley (c)
Substitutions:
IC14Bobbie Goulding
IC15Mark Preston
IC16Ian Gildart
IC17Mike Forshaw
Coach:
John Monie
FB1 Gary Belcher
RW2 Andrew Ettingshausen
CE3 Mal Meninga (c)
CE4 Mark McGaw
LW5 Michael Hancock
FE6 Laurie Daley
HB7 Allan Langer
PR8 Steve Roach
HK9 Kerrod Walters
PR10 Martin Bella
SR11 John Cartwright
SR12 Paul Sironen
LK13 Bob Lindner
Substitutions:
IC14 Ricky Stuart
IC15 Glenn Lazarus
IC16 Brad Mackay
IC17 Greg Alexander
Coach:
Bob Fulton

The match against English power club Wigan was generally regarded as the Kangaroos "4th Test" in England. However, as the team had done a week earlier against St Helens, the Kangaroos won the match easily with Wigan's only score coming from a first half penalty try to Shaun Edwards who was illegally pulled down in a chase to the ball by Bob Lindner (had Edwards not been awarded the try it would have still been scored anyway as Wigan winger David Myers had beaten everyone to ground the ball in the in-goal). Joe Lydon converted and Wigan led 6–0, but from there the Kangaroos took control of the game. Two tries to Ettingshausen and singles to Michael Hancock and man of the match Gary Belcher saw the Kangaroos race to a 20–6 lead at half time. And hopes of a Wigan comeback were snuffed out early in the second half when Ettingshausen crossed for his second hat-trick of the tour in just two games. Further tries to Brad Mackay and Alfie Langer pushed the final score out to 34–6 (Australia's highest ever score against the Cherry and Whites) and only Mal Meninga's continued poor goal kicking (3/7 here to follow his 1/6 against St Helens) kept the score from being even greater.[8]

Other than the second Ashes Test where he didn't get off the bench during the game, this was the only game on tour that Greg Alexander did not take the field. He was the only one of the 4 man reserves bench not to be used by coach Fulton.


Cumbria
Australia
FB1 Barry Vickers
RW2 Chris Rudd
CE3 William Fisher
CE4 Neil Rooney
LW5 Willie Richardson
SO6 Graeme Cameron
SH7 Dean Marwood (c)
PR8 Colin Armstrong
HK9 Gary Mounsey
PR10 Stephen Howes
SR11 Gary Kendall
SR12 Peter Riley
LF13 Russ Walker
Substitutions:
IC14 Gary Chambers
IC15 Jonathan Neil
IC16 Paul Penrice
IC17 Norman Lofthouse
Coach:
FB1 Greg Alexander
RW2 Dale Shearer
CE3 Cliff Lyons
CE4 Brad Fittler
LW5 Chris Johns
FE6 Kevin Walters
HB7 Ricky Stuart
PR8 Mark Sargent
HK9 Ben Elias (c)
PR10 David Gillespie
SR11 Mark Carroll
SR12 Mark Geyer
LK13 Des Hasler
Substitutions:
IC14 Brad Mackay
IC15 Glenn Lazarus
IC16 Bob Lindner
IC17
Coach:
Bob Fulton

The match against Cumbria in Workington was the 1990 Kangaroos only game against an English county team and was played in light rain. Playing at lock forward, Des Hasler was the official Man of the Match while Dale Shearer signaled his intentions with a hat trick of tries. For the Cumbrians, Barrow halfback and team captain Dean Marwood was their best player using a clever kicking game to continually turn the Kangaroos defence around.


Leeds
Australia
FB1John Gallagher
RW2Phil Ford
CE3Simon Irving
CE4Carl Gibson
LW5Vince Fawcett
SO6Garry Schofield (c)
SH7Paul Harkin
PR8Roy Powell
HK9Richard Gunn
PR10Steve Molloy
SR11Cavill Heugh
SR12Paul Dixon
LF13Mike Kuiti
Substitutions:
IC14Gary Divorty
IC15Paul Delaney
IC16David Creasser
IC17Dai Young
Coach:
David Ward
FB1 Gary Belcher
RW2 Andrew Ettingshausen
CE3 Mal Meninga (c)
CE4 Mark McGaw
LW5 Michael Hancock
FE6 Laurie Daley
HB7 Allan Langer
PR8 Steve Roach
HK9 Kerrod Walters
PR10 Martin Bella
SR11 Brad Mackay
SR12 Paul Sironen
LK13 Bob Lindner
Substitutions:
IC14 Ben Elias
IC15 Glenn Lazarus
IC16 Greg Alexander
IC17 David Gillespie
Coach:
Bob Fulton

During the game against Leeds at Headingley, the home side led the Kangaroos 10–6 at half time thanks to tries from former All Blacks fullback John Gallagher and Great Britain forward Paul Dixon who was awarded a try after what appeared to be a Leeds knock-on. This was the first time since Hull F.C. led the Kangaroos 7–0 at The Boulevard during game 12 of the 1982 Kangaroo tour that a British team (club, county or test) had led the tourists at half time of a match. An all-in brawl in the first half left Australian five-eight Laurie Daley with a broken bone in his right hand leaving him in doubt for the upcoming first test at Wembley Stadium


The Ashes series

After heavy criticism of French referee Alain Sablayrolles (who could not speak English), this would be the final time an Ashes series was refereed by a Frenchman. From the 1992 series referees would be from either Australia, Britain or New Zealand.

First Test

In the first rugby league international played at Wembley for 17 years, Ellery Hanley inspired a stirring first Test win for the Lions in front of 54,569 fans, the largest ever Test attendance in England and breaking the record of 50,583 set at Old Trafford in the first Ashes Test of the 1986 Kangaroo tour.[11]

Lions coach Mal Reilly named the expected side, as did Bob Fulton. However, due to a broken hand suffered by Laurie Daley in the game against Leeds, Fulton elected to play Canberra Raiders halfback Ricky Stuart at Five-eighth in his test debut. Stuart's selection saw him become the 38th Australian dual-rugby international having previously played for The Wallabies (Australian rugby union team) during their 1987 tour of Argentina. Although not selected for the test, Kangaroos forward Mark Carroll suffered a knee injury during the team's first training session in London at the Crystal Palace ground, the home of London's only professional league club of the time Fulham. The injury required Carroll to undergo an arthroscopy which would see him not return to the field until the game against Hull F.C. three weeks later.

Saturday, 27 October
Great Britain  19 – 12  Australia
Tries:
Paul Eastwood (2)
Martin Offiah
Goals:
Paul Eastwood (3/6)
Field Goals:
Garry Schofield (1)
[12] Tries:
Mal Meninga
Mark McGaw
Goals:
Mal Meninga (2/4)
Wembley Stadium, London
Attendance: 54,569
Referee: Alain Sablayrolles
Man of the Match: Garry Schofield
Great Britain
Australia
FB1 Steve Hampson
RW2 Paul Eastwood
CE3 Daryl Powell
CE4 Carl Gibson
LW5 Martin Offiah
SO6 Garry Schofield
SH7 Andy Gregory
PR8 Karl Harrison
HK9 Lee Jackson
PR10 Paul Dixon
SR11 Denis Betts
SR12 Roy Powell
LF13 Ellery Hanley (c)
Substitutions:
IC14 Karl Fairbank
IC15 Kevin Ward
IC16 Shaun Edwards
IC17
Coach:
Mal Reilly
FB1 Gary Belcher
LW2 Michael Hancock
CE3 Mal Meninga (c)
CE4 Mark McGaw
RW5 Andrew Ettingshausen
FE6 Ricky Stuart
HB7 Allan Langer
PR8 Steve Roach
HK9 Kerrod Walters
PR10 Martin Bella
SR11 Paul Sironen
SR12 John Cartwright
LK13 Bob Lindner
Substitutions:
IC14 Glenn Lazarus
IC15 Des Hasler
IC16 Greg Alexander
IC17 Dale Shearer
Coach:
Bob Fulton

Immediately after the kickoff, the Kangaroos got a taste of test football in England when Martin Bella received the ball for the first hit up. The Lions, knowing they were kicking off and that Australia were to handle the ball first, had coated the ball with petroleum jelly to make it extra slippery and Bella dropped the ball in the opening tackle (during the stop in play the British trainer came onto the field with a towel for Andy Gregory to wipe the jelly from the ball before he fed the scrum). Lions players also came in for criticism as a number were seen to have the jelly smeared on their legs to make them harder to tackle. The Lions soon opened the scoring after Bob Lindner had been tackled and had then played the ball forward. Sablayrolles ruled that Lindner had a marker and a nervous Paul Eastwood kicked a penalty goal that bounced in off the posts. Eastwood's next kick about 15 minutes later also hit the posts but this time bounced back into play, though luckily for Australia Lindner was in place to take the ball and prevent the Lions from scoring a try.

The Kangaroos were having difficulty with the French referee's interpretations (the penalty count would eventually favour the home side 17–7), but although the Lions enjoyed the bulk of possession, the Aussie's managed to weather the storm and at half time the score was locked at 2–all. Ellery Hanley and Garry Schofield's tactic of kicking over the Kangaroos defensive line rather than having their forwards trying to bash their way through it was proving to be a problem.

Despite a brilliant individual try in the second half to Mark McGaw after Steve Hampson and Carl Gibson had collided while attempting to tackle him, and a try to Mal Meninga, the Aussies were in trouble all day. The Lions, led by Hanley and Schofield were playing better than expected and after second half tries to Martin Offiah following a dropped bomb by Belcher in front of the posts (the Australian fullback had been hit in a perfectly timed tackle by Hanley who chased his own kick and caused Belcher to spill the ball straight into the arms of the waiting Offiah), a double to Eastwood who scored the winning try and a field goal by Schofield saw the Lions take a famous 19–12 win. After also winning the final game of the 1988 series in Sydney, this was Great Britain's second straight win over Australia and ended any hopes that the 1990 Tour would emulate the unbeaten 1982 and 1986 Kangaroo tours.


Warrington
Australia
FB1David Lyon
RW2Des Drummond
CE3Allan Bateman
CE4Tony Thorniley
LW5Paul Williamson
SO6Chris O'Sullivan
SH7Kevin Ellis
PR8Neil Harmon
HK9Duane Mann
PR10Tony Burke
SR11Paul Cullen
SR12Mike Gregory (c)
LF13Robert Jackson
Substitutions:
IC14Chris Rudd
IC15Billy McGinty
IC16Mark Thomas
IC17Paul Derbyshire
Coach:
Brian Johnson
FB1 Greg Alexander
RW2 Chris Johns
CE3 Mal Meninga (c)
CE4 Kevin Walters
LW5 Dale Shearer
FE6 Brad Fittler
HB7 Des Hasler
PR8 Glenn Lazarus
HK9 Ben Elias
PR10 Mark Sargent
SR11 Mark Geyer
SR12 David Gillespie
LK13 Brad Mackay
Substitutions:
IC14 Michael Hancock
IC15 John Cartwright
IC16
IC17
Coach:
Bob Fulton

Despite this being a midweek match just four days after the test at Wembley, Mal Meninga played the game against Warrington at his own request. Former Great Britain captain Mike Gregory made his return from injury for the home side. The Aussies aura of invincibility had been broken by the first test loss at Wembley, giving hope to not only the Lions test side but also the rest of the club sides waiting to play the Kangaroos and the scoreline was generally believed to have flattered the Kangaroos. It wasn't until late in the game that they put it out of Warrington's reach.


Castleford
Australia
FB1St John Ellis
RW2Steve Larder
CE3Shaun Irwin
CE4Grant Anderson
LW5David Plange
SO6Graham Steadman
SH7Gary French
PR8Lee Crooks
HK9Kevin Beardmore
PR10Dean Sampson
SR11Keith England
SR12Jeff Hardy
LF13John Joyner (c)
Substitutions:
IC14Paul Fletcher
IC15Martin Ketteridge
IC16Neil Roebuck
IC17Andy Clarke
Coach:
Darryl van der Velde
FB1 Gary Belcher
LW2 Dale Shearer
CE3 Mal Meninga (c)
CE4 Mark McGaw
RW5 Andrew Ettingshausen
FE6 Cliff Lyons
HB7 Ricky Stuart
PR8 Steve Roach
HK9 Ben Elias
PR10 Glenn Lazarus
SR11 Paul Sironen
SR12 Bob Lindner
LK13 Brad Mackay
Substitutions:
IC14 Greg Alexander
IC15 Allan Langer
IC16 Martin Bella
IC17 John Cartwright
Coach:
Bob Fulton

The Kangaroos played with the expected second test lineup. Dale Shearer had replaced Michael Hancock on the wing. Cliff Lyons came in at 5/8 with Ricky Stuart moved to halfback at the expense of Allan Langer who played this game from the bench (he came on to replace Stuart with only 8 minutes remaining). Glenn Lazarus replaced Martin Bella in the front row (Bella also played from the bench) while Brad Mackay came in at lock with Bob Lindner moved to the second row in place of John Cartwright (again on the bench). Mark McGaw's tour ended just 20 minutes into the game after rupturing the Medial ligament in his right knee. Unfortunately the injury occurred when his knee came into accidental contact with the head of Glenn Lazarus while the pair were tackling Castleford pivot Graham Steadman (who also banged his knee with McGaw's, though without injury). For his part, Lazarus required 17 stitches to bad gash above his left eye and would not take any further part, replaced by the man who had seemingly lost his place to the dual Canberra premiership winning prop, Martin Bella.

Midway through the second half, Castleford's Australian coach Darryl van der Velde defused a potentially volatile situation by replacing Lee Crooks who had begun to be involved in a number of flare-ups with Kangaroos front rower Steve Roach. Prior to coming off, veteran Crooks who had made his test debut for Great Britain as a teenager against the 1982 Kangaroos, was arguably Castleford's best player on the day.[15]


Halifax
Australia
FB1Steve Smith
RW2Rob Hutchinson
CE3Mark Elia
CE4Greg Austin
LW5Wilf George
SO6Martin Wood
SH7Roy Southernwood (c)
PR8Dick Fairbank
HK9Seamus McCallion
PR10Brendan Hill
SR11Mike Keebles
SR12Mick Scott
LF13Alan Platt
Substitutions:
IC14Tony Mitchell
IC15Richard Milner
IC16Ben Beavers
IC17James Ramshaw
Coach:
Peter Roe
FB1 Greg Alexander
RW2 Dale Shearer
CE3 Chris Johns
CE4 Kevin Walters
LW5 Michael Hancock
FE6 Brad Fittler
HB7 Allan Langer (c)
PR8 David Gillespie
HK9 Kerrod Walters
PR10 Mark Sargent
SR11 John Cartwright
SR12 Mark Geyer
LK13 Des Hasler
Substitutions:
IC14 Martin Bella
IC15
IC16
IC17
Coach:
Bob Fulton

Halifax were the only 2nd Division team the Kangaroos faced in 1990 and were out to prove their worth. However, as per normal for the English club sides on the tour, after 15 minutes their intensity dropped and by halftime the Kangaroos had cruised to a 32–6 lead. With both Mal Meninga and Ben Elias not playing and expected to be named in the second test team, Bob Fulton handed the captaincy for the game to Allan Langer. Mark Geyer got the ball rolling with the opening try after Halifax fullback Steve Smith spilled a Greg Alexander bomb behind his posts. From there tries to Mark Sargent, Alexander, Kevin Walters and a double to Chris Johns saw the Kangaroos shoot away with Australian centre Greg Austin scoring the only try for the home side. In an unsavory incident, as he crossed for a try just after the half-time siren, Kevin Walters was hit on the head by a coin thrown from the crowd.

Halifax out-scored the Kangaroos 12–4 in the second half, aided no end by referee Brian Galtress who handed the home side some 10 penalties to just 2 to the Kangaroos in the half (Halifax won the penalty count 15-6 and according to media reports, Halifax coach Peter Roe was seen having harsh words with the referee at half time). Galtress also disallowed 3 seemingly fair tries to the Australians in the second half, including one to Dale Shearer who was ruled offside from a Kevin Walters kick although television replays indicated that Shearer had been about one metre behind Walters.

Soon after scoring Australia's last try of the night midway through the second half, test winger Michael Hancock suffered an ankle injury which forced him from the field. It would cost him what slim chance he had of keeping his place in the side for the upcoming second test with Brisbane teammate Dale Shearer ultimately re-claiming his place on the Australian test wing.


Second Test

Bob Fulton made a number of changes from the first test loss at Wembley. Dale Shearer returned to the wing in place of Michael Hancock. A knee injury against Castleford when his knee had collided with the head of teammate Glenn Lazarus (who suffered a bad cut requiring 17 stitches) had ended centre Mark McGaw's tour with Laurie Daley returning to the test team to partner Meninga in the centres despite having a broken bone in his right hand. Cliff Lyons, who had won a premiership with Manly under Fulton in 1987, was called up to make his test debut with Ricky Stuart moving to halfback in place of Allan Langer. Others coming into the side were Benny Elias (hooker) for his first test since the 1988 World Cup Final, Glenn Lazarus in the front row and playing in headgear to protect the stitches, while Brad Mackay come in at lock with Bob Lindner moving to the second row at the expense of John Cartwright who dropped to the bench. Mal Reilly stuck with much of the same side that had won the first test, though injury ruled out Bradford's Karl Fairbank with Leeds forward Roy Powell moved to the bench. Wigan's Andy Platt came into the team in the front row and Paul Dixon dropping back to his preferred second row.

Saturday, 10 November
Great Britain  10 – 14  Australia
Tries:
Paul Dixon
Paul Loughlin

Goals:
Paul Eastwood (1/3)
[17] Tries:
Dale Shearer
Cliff Lyons
Mal Meninga
Goals:
Mal Meninga (1/4)
Old Trafford, Manchester
Attendance: 46,615
Referee: Alain Sablayrolles
Man of the Match: Ben Elias
Great Britain
Australia
FB1 Steve Hampson
RW2 Paul Eastwood
CE3 Daryl Powell
CE4 Carl Gibson
LW5 Martin Offiah
SO6 Garry Schofield
SH7 Andy Gregory
PR8 Karl Harrison
HK9 Lee Jackson
PR10 Andy Platt
SR11 Denis Betts
SR12 Paul Dixon
LF13 Ellery Hanley (c)
Substitutions:
IC14 Shaun Edwards
IC15 Kevin Ward
IC16 Paul Loughlin
IC17 Roy Powell
Coach:
Mal Reilly
FB1 Gary Belcher
LW2 Dale Shearer
CE3 Mal Meninga (c)
CE4 Laurie Daley
RW5 Andrew Ettingshausen
FE6 Cliff Lyons
HB7 Ricky Stuart
PR8 Steve Roach
HK9 Benny Elias
PR10 Glenn Lazarus
SR11 Paul Sironen
SR12 Bob Lindner
LK13 Brad Mackay
Substitutions:
IC14 John Cartwright
IC15 Mark Sargent
IC16 Des Hasler
IC17 Greg Alexander
Coach:
Bob Fulton

After a tense opening during which neither side gained any clear ascendancy, Dale Shearer made a welcome return to test football when he opened the scoring with a try 18 minutes into the first half after good lead-up play by Lyons, Stuart and Daley had left the flyer with a 35-metre run to the line. Meninga missed the conversion and the only other score was a penalty goal to Lions winger Paul Eastwood after Paul Sironen was penalised for giving Denis Betts a 'facial' in a tackle to leave the score 4–2 in Australia's favour.

The Lions hit back early in the second half with a try to Dixon who broke through Shearer's tackle and was able to score after Mal Meninga and Gary Belcher had fallen off him when they collided with each other. Eastwood hooked the conversion attempt and the Lions led 6–4. Soon after Lions winger Martin Offiah went down with a leg injury and he was replaced by Paul Loughlin which saw Carl Gibson forced out to the wing.

Australia reclaimed the lead thanks to a brilliant team try to Cliff Lyons in his test debut. The ball passed through 12 sets of hands (with Lyons handling it 3 times in the movement) with the Kangaroos refusing to let the ball die before Stuart and Meninga got the ball to Andrew Ettingshausen who raced down the right wing and centre kicked for Lyons to regather and score beside the posts with Garry Schofield clinging to his waist, giving the Kangaroos a 10–6 lead after Meninga landed the conversion.

With just ten minutes left, Great Britain were poised to reclaim The Ashes after twenty years with an intercept try by replacement centre Loughlin late in the match. Ricky Stuart had aimed a pass to Meninga, but Loughlin (called a Giraffe by Bob Fulton) intercepted it on the half way and raced 50 metres to score, though he was kept out wide due to a converging Laurie Daley. After hooking his earlier conversion attempt from almost the same position, Eastwood then asked noted right foot goal kicker Loughlin if he wanted to take the kick, but the St. Helens centre declined. The Hull winger then sliced the pressure conversion attempt to the left of the posts. Had the kick been successful it would have given the Lions a 12–10 lead with time running out.[18]

However the match remained tied at 10–all and after a Garry Schofield touch finder with less than 3 minutes remaining, Great Britain had the Kangaroos pinned only 10 metres out from their own line. After struggling to make ground following the scrum win, on the 4th tackle Ricky Stuart dummied past an exhausted Lee Jackson and ran 75 metres downfield leaving Lions players (including Ellery Hanley) in his wake before passing to Mal Meninga in support (who legally shouldered Carl Gibson out of the way) to complete a length-of-the-field try that sealed the match for Australia and force the series into a decider. Meninga (who had admitted that he had not been happy with his goal kicking on the tour) missed the conversion of his own try, but it wasn't a factor as the siren sounded to end the match seconds after the kick.[19]


Hull F.C.
Australia
FB1Richard Gay
RW2Paul Eastwood
CE3Rob Nolan
CE4Brad Webb
LW5Neil Turner
SO6Greg Mackey (c)
SH7Patrick Entat
PR8Jon Sharp
HK9Lee Jackson
PR10Russ Walker
SR11Ian Marlow
SR12Steve McNamara
LF13Andy Dannatt
Substitutions:
IC14Mike Dixon
IC15Anthony Jackson
IC16Brian Blacker
IC17Phil Windley
Coach:
Noel Cleal
Brian Smith
FB1 Greg Alexander
RW2 Chris Johns
CE3 Brad Fittler
CE4 Andrew Ettingshausen
LW5 Des Hasler
FE6 Kevin Walters
HB7 Allan Langer (c)
PR8 Mark Sargent
HK9 Kerrod Walters
PR10 Martin Bella
SR11 John Cartwright
SR12 Mark Geyer
LK13 David Gillespie
Substitutions:
IC14 Mark Carroll
IC15
IC16
IC17
Coach:
Bob Fulton

After a number of tours where the Kangaroos played at least two games in the north-eastern British seaside city, this would be the only game of the tour that the Australian's played in Hull. Although Australian Brian Smith was still officially the Hull coach at this time, his assistant Noel Cleal (a member of the 1986 Kangaroos and a premiership winner with Manly-Warringah under Bob Fulton in 1987) was given the coaching duties for the game. Cleal would take over as Hull coach at the end of the season when Smith moved back to Sydney to coach St George and at the time of this game, Hull were on top of the RFL premiership ladder. In a post match interview, Cleal admitted that he was sitting on the fence in this game. As coach of Hull he wanted his side to win, but he also admitted that it was pleasing to see Australia playing so well with the Ashes decider to be played in 10 days time. Giant forward Mark Carroll returned to the side after suffering a knee injury during a team training session a few days before the first Ashes Test some 3 weeks earlier.


Widnes
Australia
FB1Jonathan Davies
RW2John Devereux
CE3Andy Currier
CE4Darren Wright
LW5Harvey Howard
SO6Tony Myler
SH7David Hulme
PR8Kurt Sorenson (c)
HK9Phil McKenzie
PR10Joey Grima
SR11Emosi Koloto
SR12Richard Eyres
LF13Les Holliday
Substitutions:
IC14Paul Hulme
IC15Esene Faimalo
IC16
IC17
Coach:
Doug Laughton
FB1 Gary Belcher
LW2 Greg Alexander
CE3 Mal Meninga (c)
CE4 Dale Shearer
RW5 Andrew Ettingshausen
FE6 Cliff Lyons
HB7 Allan Langer
PR8 Steve Roach
HK9 Kerrod Walters
PR10 Glenn Lazarus
SR11 Paul Sironen
SR12 Bob Lindner
LK13 Brad Mackay
Substitutions:
IC14 Chris Johns
IC15 David Gillespie
IC16 Martin Bella
IC17 Des Hasler
Coach:
Bob Fulton

The game against Widnes was shrouded in controversy. Midway through the second half Paul Sironen was taken from the field with an eye injury and Kangaroos team doctor Nathan Gibbs diagnosed a scratched retina. During the game, Australian captain Mal Meninga had reluctantly made a complaint to referee John Kedrew about Australian players being poked in the eyes when being tackled, as had happened to Sironen (the alleged culprit was Widnes captain Kurt Sorensen who later denied any deliberate wrongdoing). Kangaroos team management and coach Bob Fulton were furious about the incident after the game, although the matter went no further due to a lack of any conclusive video evidence. The injury put Sironen in doubt for the up-coming third and deciding Ashes test in Leeds.

The game against the reigning World Club champions was a tight one on what proved to be the coldest day of the tour in England. Led by their inspirational 'Welsh Wizard' fullback, dual rugby international Jonathan Davies, Widnes pushed the Kangaroos to the closest club game score of the tour with the Kangaroos finally winning 15–8 thanks to tries to man of the match Gary Belcher (who also kicked a goal after Meninga had missed with his 3 attempts as well as adding the tour's only field goal), Dale Shearer and Greg Alexander. "Brandy" played the game at Naughton Park, the scene of Australia's last non-test loss in England back in 1978, on the wing with Shearer moved to the centres in place of Laurie Daley who was being kept under wraps until the third test due to his broken right hand.


Third Test

In the third and final test of The Ashes series, Australia kept alive their series streak (not having lost The Ashes since Great Britain won in Australia in 1970 and not having lost them in England since 1959), with a 14–0 win in front of a packed Elland Road in Leeds. Australia ran in three tries to nil with Mal Meninga, Andrew Ettingshausen and Benny Elias all crossing the line while the Lions rarely threatened the Kangaroos line in the wet and slippery conditions.

Kangaroos captain Mal Meninga became just the third Australian to score a try in each test of an Ashes series following on from legendary try-scoring winger Ken Irvine in 1962 and 1963, and the most unlikely of the trio, front-row forward Sam Backo in 1988.

Bob Fulton made only one change to his side from Old Trafford with Mark Sargent coming onto the bench for John Cartwright. Mal Reilly did similar to his former Manly-Warringah teammate and only made changes to his bench with Jonathan Davies replacing Paul Loughlin and Mike Gregory returning to the side in place of Shaun Edwards.

This test also doubled as a round game of the 1989–1992 Rugby League World Cup.

Saturday, 24 November
Great Britain  0 – 14  Australia
Tries:



Goals:
[22] Tries:
Andrew Ettingshausen
Mal Meninga
Ben Elias
Goals:
Mal Meninga (1/3)
Elland Road, Leeds
Attendance: 32,500
Referee: Alain Sablayrolles
Man of the Match: Ricky Stuart
Great Britain
Australia
FB1 Steve Hampson
RW2 Paul Eastwood
RC3 Daryl Powell
LC4 Carl Gibson
LW5 Martin Offiah
SO6 Garry Schofield
SH7 Andy Gregory
PR8 Karl Harrison
HK9 Lee Jackson
PR10 Andy Platt
SR11 Denis Betts
SR12 Paul Dixon
LK13 Ellery Hanley (c)
Substitutions:
IC14 Mike Gregory
IC15 Roy Powell
IC16 Jonathan Davies
IC17 Kevin Ward
Coach:
Mal Reilly
FB1 Gary Belcher
LW2 Dale Shearer
RC3 Mal Meninga (c)
LC4 Laurie Daley
RW5 Andrew Ettingshausen
FE6 Cliff Lyons
HB7 Ricky Stuart
PR8 Steve Roach
HK9 Benny Elias
PR10 Glenn Lazarus
SR11 Paul Sironen
SR12 Bob Lindner
LF13 Brad Mackay
Substitutions:
IC14 David Gillespie
IC15 Des Hasler
IC16 Mark Sargent
IC17 Greg Alexander
Coach:
Bob Fulton

The deciding test was played in wet and slippery conditions, though the Kangaroos handled the tricky conditions better than the home side.

Australia's first try to Andrew Ettingshausen came when the Kangaroos caught the Lions short in their defensive line. Centre Carl Gibson had received a head knock and was in the hands of the trainers. Unfortunately he was still on the field which did not allow his replacement Jonathan Davies to come on and make up the numbers. Stuart's long pass to Ettingshausen allowed him to skirt around Martin Offiah to score in the corner for the only points of the first half after Meninga missed the difficult sideline conversion.

Later in the second half, Meninga scored after Garry Schofield had raced out the Lions defensive line to try for an intercept. However the ball got to Cliff Lyons first and he immediately exploited the gap where Schofield should have been to send Meninga back inside to score untouched under the posts. In the Elland Road grandstand, Lions coach Mal Reilly and his assistant Phil Larder could only look on in disbelief. Schofield, who was nicknamed "The Poacher" due to his habit of racing out of the line looking for intercepts, had been warned before the game by both Reilly and Larder (as well as his own club coach, former Lions captain David Ward) not to race out of the defensive line as the Australians were capable of exploiting any gap it created, which is exactly what happened. Meninga's easy conversion of his own try gave Australia what would be a match winning 10–0 lead in the conditions. With only minutes remaining, Elias put the result beyond doubt when he scooted out of dummy half and scored in the corner to give Australia a well earned 14–0 win.

France

Australia: Greg Alexander, Dale Shearer, Brad Fittler, Chris Johns, Des Hasler, Kevin Walters, Allan Langer (c), Mark Sargent, Kerrod Walters, Martin Bella, Mark Carroll, Mark Geyer, David Gillespie


Australia: Greg Alexander, Gary Belcher, Brad Fittler, Chris Johns, Des Hasler, Kevin Walters, Allan Langer (c), Mark Sargent, Kerrod Walters, Martin Bella, Mark Carroll, Mark Geyer, David Gillespie

Fullback Greg Alexander (Test fullback Gary Belcher actually played on the wing) had a field day against the French B team in Lyon, crossing for 5 tries and kicking 13 goals from 13 attempts for a personal score of 46 points which saw him become the first player to score over 100 points on the tour (he ended the game with 104 points for the tour).


French Tests

First test

Sunday, 2 December 1990
France  4 – 60  Australia
Tries:
David Fraisse






Goals:
Michel Roses (0/1)
[24] Tries:
Greg Alexander (3)
Gary Belcher (2)
Andrew Ettingshausen (2)
Paul Sironen
Dale Shearer
David Gillespie
Glenn Lazarus
Goals
Greg Alexander (7/8)
Mal Meninga (1/3)
Parc de Sports, Avignon
Attendance: 2,200
Referee: John Holdsworth
Man of the Match: Greg Alexander
France
Australia
FB1Michel Roses
RW2Alain Bouzer
RC3Serge Bret
LC4Denis Bienes
LW5Cyril Pons
SO6David Fraisse
SH7Patrick Entat (c)
PR8Serge Titeux
HK9Thierry Valero
PR10Christian Calvo
SR11Daniel Divet
SR12Daniel Verdes
LK13Jacques Molinier
Substitutions:
IC14Marc Tisseyre
IC15Patrick Marginet
IC16Jacques Rouscayrol
IC17
Coach:
FB1 Gary Belcher
RW2 Andrew Ettingshausen
RC3 Mal Meninga (c)
LC4 Laurie Daley
LW5 Dale Shearer
FE6 Cliff Lyons
HB7 Ricky Stuart
PR8 Steve Roach
HK9 Benny Elias
PR10 Glenn Lazarus
SR11 Paul Sironen
SR12 David Gillespie
LF13 Brad Mackay
Substitutions:
IC14 Des Hasler
IC15 Greg Alexander
IC16 Mark Geyer
IC17 Mark Sargent
Coach:
Bob Fulton

The Kangaroos easily accounted for a gallant, but out-classed French side in the first test in Avignon. Replacement halfback Greg Alexander, who came on after only 15 minutes of the first half for Ricky Stuart who left the field feeling ill, continued his good form in France and crossed for a hat-trick of tries. He also took over the goal kicking from Mal Meninga and kicked 7/8 giving him a personal points haul of 26 points as the Kangaroos won their 8th straight game against France 60–4.

The only change to the Kangaroos line up from the third test against Great Britain was David Gillespie coming off the bench to replace an injured Bob Lindner, with giant Penrith back row forward Mark Geyer coming onto the bench for his test match debut.


Australia: Greg Alexander, Dale Shearer, Chris Johns, Andrew Ettingshausen, Des Hasler, Brad Fittler, Allan Langer (c), Mark Sargent, Kevin Walters, Martin Bella, Mark Geyer, Mark Carroll, John Cartwright


Second Test

9 December 1990
France  10 – 34  Australia
Tries:
Patrick Entat
Cyril Pons




Goals
Marc Tisseyre (1/2)
[26] Tries:
Brad Mackay
Andrew Ettingshausen
Mal Meninga
Steve Roach
Dale Shearer
Greg Alexander
Goals
Greg Alexander (3/7)
Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan
Attendance: 3,428
Referee: John Holdsworth
Man of the Match: Cliff Lyons
France
Australia
FB1David Fraisse
RW2Alain Bouzer
RC3Serge Bret
LC4Guy Delaunay
LW5Cyril Pons
SO6Jacques Molinier
SH7Patrick Entat (c)
PR8Marc Tisseyre
HK9Thierry Valero
PR10Thiery Buttignol
SR11Francis Lope
SR12Daniel Divet
LK13Daniel Verdes
Substitutions:
IC14Denis Bienes
IC15Patrick Marginet
IC16
IC17
Coach:
FB1 Gary Belcher
RW2 Andrew Ettingshausen
RC3 Mal Meninga (c)
LC4 Dale Shearer
LW5 Greg Alexander
FE6 Cliff Lyons
HB7 Ricky Stuart
PR8 Steve Roach
HK9 Benny Elias
PR10 Glenn Lazarus
SR11 Paul Sironen
SR12 Bob Lindner
LF13 Brad Mackay
Substitutions:
IC14 Chris Johns
IC15 Mark Sargent
IC16 David Gillespie
IC17 Des Hasler
Coach:
Bob Fulton

Against an out-classed French team, Kangaroos coach Bob Fulton allowed himself the luxury of fiddling with the test side for the final game of the tour. Laurie Daley was ruled out with a hamstring injury which saw Dale Shearer move to the centres with Greg Alexander selected to play in the unfamiliar position of wing. Bob Lindner returned to the side which saw David Gillespie move back to the bench while Mark Geyer was also ruled out with injury and was replaced by speedy Brisbane Broncos outside back Chris Johns for his test debut.

After scoring a first half try, Greg Alexander performed a gymnastic backflip (Alexander claimed he had wanted to do that during one of the English games but felt the timing hadn't been right given the circumstances with Australia under pressure due to their first test loss). The Kangaroos won the second test 34–10 against a much more committed French team at the Stade Gilbert Brutus in Perpignan.[27]

Statistics

Leading try scorer

Leading point scorer

Largest attendance

Largest club game attendance

Bob Lindner was named the player's player of the tour.

References

Further reading

  • Andrews, Malcolm (2006) The ABC of Rugby League Austn Broadcasting Corpn, Sydney
  • McGregor, Adrian (1991) Simply The Best, The 1990 Kangaroos, Uni of Queensland Press pages 225–225
  • Belcher, Gary (1991) Kangaroo Confidential Gary Belcher's Tour Diary, pages 138–150
  • Cochrane, Brett & Kerr, James (1991) Twenty Eight Heroes, Cochrane & Kerr, Sydney
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