Australia was not really renowned for brilliant full backs until Clive Churchill, "The Little Master," appeared in the 1950s. But he was out on his own with no competitor within Australia. Of his contemporaries only the Frenchman Puig Aubert could challenge Churchill's status.
Then came the 1960s, when the old boring standby, Keith Barnes (Balmain's brilliant goal kicker and solid defender, but hopeless attacker) got shunted aside by Les Johns, Graeme Langlands and Ken Thornett. The talent at full back in Australia was so rich that they moved the now Immortal Langlands to centre, so as to accommodate Thornett and Johns in the Kangaroo squads.
Australia has always had several top class attacking and defending fullbacks in their system. Russell Fairfax and Graham Eadie in the 1970s, Garry Jack and Gary Belcher in the 1980s, Gary Belcher, Dale Shearer, Andrew Ettingshausen, Tim Brasher, Robbie O'Davis, and Darren Lockyer in the 1990s, Darren Lockyer, Brett Hodgson, Anthony Minichiello and Matt Bowen in the first half of the 2000s.
I cannot recall any time since the 1950s when Great Britain had a full back who was in the same class as the best from Australia. But since 2005 it has been a glut of full back talent in Australia.
Today I think we can agree that Clint Greenshields and Brett Hodgson are the best attacking full backs in Super League. So I could have named at least twelve, perhaps fifteen Aussie full backs who were better than the best in England. There must be something wrong with the junior recruitment, the way the game is played, or the physical environment (weather and grounds), that keeps England from producing abundant great talent in this playing position.
Edited by ParisSurtout, 15 September 2010 - 08:16 PM.