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SOME GREAT" WINGFORWARDS

Referring to the remarks made by the manager of the British team, Mr. James Baxter, with regard toth wingforward, 'a--writer "in tho ' "Taranaki Herald" says:—

The British manager at Wanganui received unexpected support from the 19-year-old captain of the \Vanf,anui team, who, had he been more experienced, would probably have left such a controversial subject severely alone..

It has been pointed out', that the wing-forward was a tried and proved feature of New Zealand football long before this bright youngster was out of his cradle days. As far back as 1905, the wing-forward was vigorously, and in some cases viciously, assailed by English Rugby . critics. The late lamented Davie Uallaher, who gave his life for his country in France, ,was the particular bete noir of Hamish Stewart, and other intensely conservative critics of his days. And before him "Off-side" M'Kenzie, who is still vigorously alert and active in Melbourne, was tho subject of the more good-humoured attacks of Australian critics.

The wing-forward position goes back to the 'nineties, which is generally recognised as tho peripd of greatest development in New Zealand football. It was a" natural sequoiico to the 2-3-2 scrum which, in its turn, was the dis-covcx-y of the finest brains in the game at a time when the game was taken up as a science, and the foundation laid for the- sweeping successes of the famous 1905 All Blacks.

The writer proceeds to mention some of the wing-forwards who made history in the game. "If not the originator, the, late Tom Ellison . (Tamati Erihana) was the first outstanding exponent of the wing-forward game (he writes). He was a magnificent allround player, and a great student of the game. " After him came another great Wellingtonian, ' Off-side' M'K-eu-zie, one of the greatest generals the Rugby game has known.

"At the head of the 1905 All Blacks was Dave Gall ah er, who had to bear the brunt of the fierce attacks of the British critics, who regarded the system of play introduced by the New Zoalanders as revolutionary in the extreme. To many of them the wingforward was anathema.

"After Gallahcr came George .Gil-. Lett, who is ranked by many critics as tho greatest wing-forward New Zealand ever produced. Six feet in height, fast and clever, he had a wonderful pair of hands, an uncanny sense of positional play, and was a beautiful kick. '-He starts 'where I leave off,' was tho - magnificent compliment paid to him by Gallaher himself.

"It was not till 1924 that New Zealand produced another wing-forward of Gillett'a type. . In the All Black trials of that, year, a beautifully-built Canterbury forward was showing tremendous pace and dash in the side 'ro / of the scrum. Inquiries elicited tho fact that he was Jim Parker, better known as the 75rds professional sprint champion of the Dominion.

"Parker was the Gillctt type—a born rover, like lightning off tho mark, with good hands, and a genius for fla.sk-ing-into an opening. So brilliantly did he play, and so scrupulously did ho observe the off-side rule, that the English critic could not fault him. He spiked the guns of the hostile writers, and received many a generous eulogy from the friendly ones. High honours did.not come to Mm all at once. In the memorable inter-Island match of that year, Cliff Porter achieved a personal triumph, which was only excelled by the dazzling play of Bert Cooke at second five-eighths,'and Georgo Nepia's spectacular success at full-back. It was in England that Parker got his big chance, and won his way into the Tests." •' ■

Another wing-forward whom the writer does not mention ■" is E. A. ('Moke") Bellis, who came to light as an outstanding player in that j/osition with the Army team .in South Africa, and whose subsequent displays in interprovincial and international Rugby caused him" to be ranked a? one o the greatest footballers New" Zealand has produced.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP19300621.2.181

Bibliographic details

SOME GREAT" WINGFORWARDS, Evening Post, Volume CIX, Issue 144, 21 June 1930

Word Count
649

SOME GREAT" WINGFORWARDS Evening Post, Volume CIX, Issue 144, 21 June 1930

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