Obituary: Shane McNally – The Maroon stalwart who had a fine season with Wakefield Trinity

SHANE McNALLY (May 19, 1954 – August 11, 2023)

SHANE McNALLY, who died earlier this month while on holiday in Canada, was a committed Queenslander who contributed greatly to Rugby League in the state as a player, coach and administrator and came closer than anyone else in Wakefield Trinity’s Super League tenure to taking them to a Grand Final.

In charge at the West Yorkshire club between July 2002 and June 2005 (he had initially been assistant to Peter Roe), he was named Super League Coach of the Year in 2004.

That was after Wakefield, featuring the likes of Jason Demetriou, Sid Domic, Gareth Ellis, David March and David Solomona (as well as current team chief Mark Applegarth), finished sixth, won 28-18 at Hull in an elimination play-off, then pushed hosts Wigan hard before going down 18-14 in an elimination semi-final.

Wakefield were bottom of Super League and had won just one of their previous twelve matches when McNally took over the team in 2002.

As a player (a goal-kicking prop and occasional hooker), McNally, who has died aged 69, represented Queensland, touring England with the Wally Lewis-skippered Maroons in the Autumn of 1983, soon after winning the Brisbane first-grade title with Eastern Suburbs.

The senior member of an outstanding and mainly young pack, he landed three goals in his trademark ‘toe-poke’ style as Redcliffe were beaten 14-6 at Lang Park.

McNally had represented Queensland Country in 1978, while playing for the Gatton club from Toowoomba in the South, helping them beat City 19-10 at Lang Park.

He also played for Northern Suburbs and Western Suburbs, and on hanging up his boots at the end of the 1984 season, took up coaching.

In 1987 McNally was in charge of Easts in the last season of the Brisbane Rugby League’s ‘golden era’, before the birth of Brisbane Broncos.

After his departure from Wakefield, he returned to Brisbane and coached Wynnum Manly Seagulls in the Queensland Cup from 2007 to 2009, as well at Brisbane representative sides.

McNally’s experience as a player and coach meant he had a considerable amount to offer in various Queensland roles in development and administration.