Remembering A Rabbitoh – Harry Wells…A Rugby League Legend

On the show this week we featured Harry Wells, a man that only played six games for the Rabbitohs but one of those was the 1951 grand final win over Manly. Harry then moved on to produce a brilliant career in rugby league.

Below is our Rabbitohs TV segment & a selection of content from various websites about the great man.

Harry Wells

Son and grandson of boxers “Dealer” Wills. A Melbourne newspaper misspelt his grandfathers name as boxer “Dealer” Wells, and it remained that way in the papers.

Harry says, “I had a talent scout take me to South Sydney at 18 – in 1951 – he knew my father as ‘Dealer’ Wells, so he introduced me to the club with that name, but I put my name down as Harry Wills for the trials. They sent me off to the grandstand to wait until my name was called and after about two or three games I was asked when I was playing. My recruiter went and asked ‘when does young Harry Wells play?’ And they looked up the names and said there’s no Harry Wells. He looked at the book and said you’ve got his name wrong its Harry Wells not Harry Wills – and from then on that was how it was.”

Harry had been selected for New South Wales on the bench after a few good performances mid year while Graves and Woolfe were on representative duties, but returned to reserve grade upon their return. On the eve of the Grand Final Harry was called back into the 1951 Grand Final team after Cliff Smailles dislocated his elbow late in the season. Playing in his only Grand Final winning team.

Harry went to represent Australia after leaving Souths and was named in the 100 ARL Rugby League players of the century. SSR Almanac

Harry Wells (real name Wills) came from a long line of boxers (both his father and grandfather fought under the name ‘Dealer’ Wills) and brought many of the ring’s attributes to his league career.

A robust, weaving centre, Wells came from Wollongong to play for Souths in 1951, winning the premiership in his first season in Sydney, before returning home. In 1952 he represented NSW and toured with the Kangaroos, where he made the first of 22 Test appearances. Wells played against NZ (1953 and 1959), Great Britain (1954 and 1958), France (1955 and 1960), in three World Cup campaigns (1954, 1957 and 1960) and a second Kangaroo tour (1959-60).

In the latter part of his career, he formed a great partnership with a young Reg Gasnier, and the pair played in 12 Test matches together. In 1956 Wells came to Wests as part of the club’s premiership build-up but the Magpies lost the grand final to St George, 20-9. Wells played out the remainder of his career in the country and made one last appearance against Great Britain while playing for Monaro in 1966.
– ALAN WHITICKER Rugby League Project

Australian rugby league has produced few centres to match Harry Wells, and few greater centre pairings than the partnership of Wells and Reg Gasnier. Wells came from Wollongong in 1951 to try his luck with Souths, and immediately struck gold when he was in the grand-final team that destroyed Manly 42–14.

But it was a brief sojourn and he then headed back down the coast.

He was still based in the Illawarra when he won selection in the 1952–53 Kangaroos, making the first of his 21 Test appearances at Headingley, in the opening Test of the series.

In the third Test against Great Britain in 1954, Wells was a dominating figure. He scored the try that sent the Australians on their way to the Ashes.

Renowned for his ability to break the line, Wells was an immensely popular footballer.

He came back to Sydney in 1956 to join Wests at the beginning of the ”Magpies millionaires” phase, and stayed six seasons with the Magpies, appearing in 85 games and scoring 33 tries.

He played in three World Cups and made a second Kangaroo tour in 1959–60.

His career in big-time football ended in 1961, but he headed on and on in bush football, finally finishing up in Port Macquarie in 1972, at age 40. National Rugby League Hall of Fame