Guesting in Australia

In the mid 1970s, Ken Senior had a spell playing Rugby League in Australia for Crookwell, a village about 200 miles from Sydney. He was in good company as an English Rugby League player in Australia at that time. Although in the  latter stages of his career, playing the game for a small country club, gave Ken the opportunity to sample a different lifestyle and a number of leading British players became star names with big clubs in the intensely competitive Sydney premiership at that time.

One of the first British players to sign for a leading Australian club was Derek Hallas, who joined Paramatta from Leeds in 1963.  But over the next two decades a steady stream of leading players followed him. They included internationals such as Dick Huddart who went to St George, Dave Bolton to Balmain, Merv Hicks to Canterbury, Mike Stephenson to Penrith, Malcolm Reilly, Steve Norton and Phil Lowe to Manly, Roger Millward, Cliff Watson and Tommy Bishop to Cronulla and John Gray to North Sydney. Most of these players enjoyed successful spells in Australia with Bolton, Huddart, Hicks, Reilly, Lowe, Watson and Bishop all playing in Grand finals for their respective clubs.

After Australian Rugby League had continually lost talented players to clubs in England the trend was reversed and the British game suffered accordingly. The widely recognised skills of these players, many of whom had made up the core of British sides that won the Ashes in 1970 and World Cup in 1973, had a huge impact as the game in Australia made significant progress. It is no coincidence that in the 1970s the balance of power in international Rugby League began to shift significantly towards the southern hemisphere where it remains today.