Bryan Niebling. Picture: Jono Searle
Bryan Niebling. Picture: Jono Searle

A cold beer with . . . Rothmans medal winner

BRYAN Niebling left Murgon and went from being a Diehard to a Dolphin and then a Bronco. He won a Rothmans Medal in 1986 and toured with the Kangaroos on the trip of a lifetime collecting Queensland jumpers and a Panasonic Cup.

I sat down at the trough and had a beer with “Horse’’.

How did you end up at Valleys in 1980? All I ever wanted was to play A Grade for Murgon but I hadn’t achieved it yet. Wayne Bennett was at Souths in 1979 and he wanted me to come to the Magpies but I told him I want to play A Grade at home first but if I come to Brisbane it will be with Souths. Valleys have come out to Murgon and convinced me to come to Brisbane and I have agreed. I wouldn’t say Bennett was happy with me.

You struck up a combination with Lewis at Valleys. How was it playing with Wally every week? Wally was a special player and just had time to do things. I just did what he told me to do.

You played two games for Queensland in the 1981 Interstate series. You get to play with Arthur Beetson? I played with Arthur in 1981 for two losses. His last game for Queensland was our loss at Leichhardt Oval. After the two interstate games it then reverted to Origin for the third and Arthur was coach. I made my Origin debut in game one 1983 and Arthur was still coach so to be coached and play with one of your heroes was massive for me.

You played against the Jets in the State League for Valleys and in the BRL for the Dolphins. Any memorable trips to Ipswich? I remember with Ipswich they were a young side, just brimming with enthusiasm and a keenness to prove themselves. You could sense they just wanted to prove they belong and if you’re coming to town with a big club like Valleys or Redcliffe well Ipswich just see that as a green light to go wild. You’d have to walk through the crowd down to the field and you’d be thinking please anywhere but here. But that’s what Ipswich wanted. Later on in 1986 and 1987 they were starting to develop those players like Alf and Kerrod and Kevin Walters. Ipswich has been such a football factory for a long time, they just needed the chance.

The 1986 Kangaroo Tour to the UK. Has there ever been a better international backline on the trip of a lifetime? Young players are missing out but young fans are missing out too. I remember 1978 and 1982 you’d get up and watch the Test and it was great memories and then my chance came in 1986 to tour and we went away for three months and we all were good mates and got on and just played some terrific football. My son is 34 and he still reminds me I was away for his first birthday and I say I would do it again sorry mate.

You’re right, it’s a hell of a backline - Lewis, Sterling, Miles, Kenny, Shearer, Jack and O’Connor. They scored 700 points in the 20 games, just unbelievable and only had just over 100 scored against. The strength of the side is who couldn’t make it. Mal was on the bench for two Tests and then in the second row for the last Test against Great Britain.