Captain-coach Rod Reddy holds aloft the Winfield Shield.
Captain-coach Rod Reddy holds aloft the Winfield Shield.

A cold beer with . . . rugby league Invincible

By Michael Nunn

ROD Reddy left Rockhampton to become a Dragon in 1972. He played 204 games for the Red V and 17 games for Australia, 11 for the Blues and one game for Queensland in Origin. Reddy was an Invincible in 1982 touring with the unbeaten Kangaroos for the second time after a tour in 1978 and won two premierships in 1977 and 1979. There was not much Reddy did not achieve.

How did you end up at the Dragons from Rockhampton?

I played in the Rockhampton grand final in 1971 and played well. I was coming down to Brisbane with Steve Crear and I was going to sign with Redcliffe. Tosser Turner had convinced us to be Dolphins. Tosser offered me $500 but Dragons Frank Facer got in and offered $2000 and convinced me to go to the Dragons and so I ended up at Sydney for 1972.

I ended 1971 watching Dragons play Souths in the grand final in Rockhampton and then new year I am training with those same players.

At one stage Dragons looked like having to pay $5000 to Brothers in Rockhampton for me and were not that keen but in the end they did not have to and I ended up at the Dragons.

Two premierships in 1977 and 1979. Did you have a favourite?

I do not have a favourite but 1977 was very odd. To draw the grand final for the first time was not an outcome we even thought about it too much.

I remember at the start of the replay week Harry Bath said we are fit, we just need to finetune a few things and we just did some ball work and freshened up. It was a very relaxed week.

We were young in 1977. Steve Edge, Ted Goodwin and I were the oldest players and then 1978 we all thought we were good as young men do and we fell in a hole. That made 1979 very special because we got back again and won.

The 1982 Kangaroo Tour and the first tour to go through undefeated. It is a hell of a team?

It was completely unexpected. I did not think I had any chance. I went to the grand final to watch the Eels beat Manly and then drove home thinking well football is done for the year.

I had bought a brewery truck that year and was getting ready for work the next day and a mate rang to say congratulations. I have gone from getting ready to work to figuring out who is going to look after my business for the next three months.

My wife was pregnant and due in December so I really did not expect to tour. I had also been injured a bit and played some reserve grade coming back from injury so it was unexpected.

Origin in 1980, 40 years ago, what are your memories of the week?

I have a few memories. It was a relaxed week. I roomed with Colin Scott and he was never in the room. He would just disappear. I remember Wally being five minutes late for training one day.

Rod Reddy's specially signed shirt.
Rod Reddy's specially signed shirt.

I remember Duncan Hall was the manager and was a great man. I have my training shirt still signed by Duncan Hall, Arthur and myself. Bit strange I signed it. One day I would like to donate that shirt to the QRL, FOGS or Men of League- cannot be too many signed shirts by the first captain and manager.

We got there, Queensland police and NSW police were playing each other, and if there was 10 people, there I would be shocked. I watched 15 minutes of that game and then went under the stand to get ready. In those days, you would not come back out again until kick off so we have come out to 35,000 people and it was just unbelievable.

Do you still have your Origin jumper?

Yes I do. It is at home with my jumper collection and the signed training shirt.

I always remember when I was young in Rockhampton my neighbour and I were playing football together and he had a billet from Toowoomba at his place who came to play with us. He has come out in a Duncan Hall's game worn Test jumper Hall had given him. It was number 20. I bet that kid wishes he still had that jumper now.

Cooper's stat

Rod Reddy: One Origin game, 14 runs, one line break assist, nine tackles, 60 run metres, five off-loads.