In this episode we speak to Souths legend Bob McCarthy. The interview takes place in a noisy Coogee cafe but it’s still a tremendous chat with one of the greatest ever Rabbitohs. Long time Souths trainer Terry Coulits gives us some interesting insights into what goes on behind the scenes at Redfern.
The advent of limited tackle football in 1967 saw Bob McCarthy revolutionise the role of the second row forward. While most back-rowers were content to stay in tight and make their runs close to the ruck McCarthy was one of the first forwards to stand wide and make his devastating bursts out in the centres. A scorer of over 100 tries for Souths (the second forward to do so after the great Frank Burge), club captain John Sattler rated McCarthy the greatest blind-side forward in the world. The national selectors, however, were slow to recognise his talent. The athletically built forward came through Souths’ junior ranks in the early 1960s and was a member of the young Rabbitohs team that was beaten by St George in the 1965 grand final. Under the guidance of coach Clive Churchill McCarthy was given greater freedom to skirt wide (his memorable intercept try that turned the tide of the 1967 grand final came from his unorthodox positioning on the field). Incredibly, he was omitted from the Kangaroo squad selected on grand final night that year. A vital cog in the champion Souths teams that won premierships in 1967-68 & 1970-71, (he was coming back from injury in 1968 and had to be content with a reserve grade premiership), McCarthy made his Test debut on the Australian Tour of NZ in 1969. The season’s leading try-scorer in 1970 with 15 tries, he scored another vital try to wrap up the 1971 grand final against St George after linking brilliantly with Ron Coote. McCarthy was a member of Australia’s World Cup squads in 1970 and 1972 and was vice-captain of the 1973 Kangaroos. He captained Australia in the Second Test win over Great Britain and scored a defiant try before injuring his shoulder. His last of 10 Test appearances was against Great Britain in 1974 and while a host of champion players left Souths during the early 1970s McCarthy at first remained to captained the club. During the disastrous 1975 season that led to Clive Churchill’s resignation McCarthy took over as caretaker coach. After a club record number of first grade games to his credit he reluctantly left Souths and signed with C’bury the following year. McCarthy stoically led the Bulldogs in two competitive seasons but returned to Souths at the instigation of coach Jack Gibson in 1978. The following year he played in two trials for Easts but injury finally caught up with him. Awarded the MBE in 1977 McCarthy coached successfully in Brisbane after his retirement as a player. He was G’Coast’s initial coach in 1988-90 but his return to Souths at the start of the 1994 season proved to be short-lived. Souths won the pre-season competition that year but McCarthy’s position as sole coach was changed to accommodate football manager Alan Jones and reserve grade coach Ken Shine and McCarthy stood down after the opening rounds of the season citing health reasons. The most exciting ball-running forward of the new era of limited tackles McCarthy rose to a position on the NRL Judiciary and then as Chairman of the NSW and Australian Selection Panels. – ALAN WHITICKER
In this episode we look back at the Rabbitohs 20-16 round 19 win over the Dragons at ANZ Stadium, discuss the Souths pathways teams results, interview Bunnies legend Craig ‘Tugger’ Coleman & look ahead to the round 20 Sharks clash that we would go on to lose 39-24 at Shark Park. Browny & Mavo also share their memories of the Cronulla Sharks.
A Cheeky, irrepressible halfback, Craig Coleman played a record 283 grade games with Souths. Coleman was a tyro behind the scrumbase; able to mobilise his forwards with sharp passing and providing great service to his outside backs. He played for Widnes in 1986-87, where he left under a cloud when he preferred to play second grade, and for Hull in 1988-89. After a decade with the Rabbitohs, he left the club at the end of 1992 to play with Salford in England. The following year, Coleman returned to Australia after the February 1 deadline and threatened to take the ARL to court when denied a clearance to play with the G’Coast club. (He played in the Souths A Grade competition for the remainder of the year). Coleman brought his experience to the fore with the struggling Seagulls club in 1994-5 and despite his veteran status, saw out his career with Wests in 1996. But his heart was always at Souths, and he returned to the club as a lower grade coach before taking over from Steve Martin midway through 1998. Coleman was at the helm of the Rabbitohs when they were excluded from the 2000 NRL competition and fought for two years for the right to be included in the premiership competition. It was only fitting then, when Souths returned in 2002, that Coleman was back as first grade coach but the move was not a success. After the Rabbitohs struggled to be competitive in 2002 and in pre-season trials in 2003, Coleman was sacked by the club. – ALAN WHITICKER