Brett Plowman in action for the Broncos against Balmain in 1992 at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney.
Brett Plowman in action for the Broncos against Balmain in 1992 at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney.

IGS footballer had size, strength to make huge impact


Michael Nunn

IF you ventured down to Ipswich Grammar School in 1986, you might have come across that kid every school has. He's the one with the size of a man and shaving in grade eight.

At IGS that was Brett Plowman.

Plowman was terrorising high school boys with his size and strength and then took the show on the road to the new Brisbane Broncos, nearly stopping at Canberra along the way.

"I made the Australian schoolboys under 15," Plowman remembered.

"The recruitment officer from IGS contacted my father Ross.

"I don't remember which school we were at the time because our family went to 10 or 11 during our education period.

"We were always country people. They offered me a full scholarship and my father recommended I take it."

Former Ipswich Grammar School student Brett Plowman
Former Ipswich Grammar School student Brett Plowman

The IGS memories started to emerge for Plowman and they were not always good.

"I was fairly free spirited. I wasn't used to the regimented program the school expected.

"You were only allowed to go down town once a week.

"I had a girlfriend at the girls' school so I would go away a couple of times a week and meet her.

"During my IGS years, we had a great bunch of talented young men and a great coaching staff in Steve Nance and Peter Wilson. That was a huge positive."

Then it was off to the Broncos and the first of 103 NRL games in a 10-year career. That included 14 games in the Broncos maiden premiership year in 1992 and a spot on the bench for the magic of September.

Steve Nance.
Steve Nance.

The Broncos in their first year had a familiar voice at Red Hill with Steve Nance.

"By the time Steve Nance got to the Broncos he had given up yelling at me I think. You cannot flog a dead horse,'' Plowman said.

"I had actually signed three years for Canberra as Wayne Bennett was coach there.

"When Bennett signed for Brisbane he asked a couple of the young guys who went down if we wanted to follow him back to Brisbane, which we obviously did."

Then a debut against the Roosters at Lang Park in a 24-20 win in 1988 and a star-studded line-up for Brisbane including a young Plowman in the centres with his hero Gene Miles.


Wayne Bennett. Picture: AAP Image/Michael Chambers
Wayne Bennett. Picture: AAP Image/Michael Chambers

The Broncos had Lewis, Miles, Kilroy, Scott, Langer, Consecu, Dowling and Tessman.

On the other side, the Chooks had Gillmeister, McLean, McGahan, Trewhella and Morris.

"Some very handy players I always admired Gene Miles, Wally, Greg Consecu and Colin Scott were great blokes,'' Plowman said.

The young centre would be included in the second row by his fifth game against Balmain before being encouraged to the wing against Manly in 1989.

"I wasn't the best trainer and was more a power player I preferred the wing,'' he said.

"My playing weight was between 110kg to 115kg, because I didn't train that much and was naturally big.

"I would walk around the gym while the guys were busting their a...s annoying them.

"If Kelvin Giles came in I would pretend to be stretching.''

Big wingers have become the norm now but Plowman still thinks he could throw his hip into some wingers and watch them bump away.

"I still think today I would go alright as my defence was pretty solid,'' he said.

Happy 40th birthday Origin

I REMEMBER it vividly. I was in Mrs Jones' Year five class at Brassall State School.

Aged 10, I fell in love, not with the girl in the front row but State or Origin and the Queensland team.

The 1989 series was underway and Queensland was 1-0 up after giving the Blues a real hiding in game one at Lang Park 36-6.

Game two came around the Blues had some guys included in their side like Tigers' Bruce McGuire and Panthers' Peter Kelly who weren't put there to hand over a 2-0 deficit.

I have watched the game countless times since reliving the 16-12 win.

"Lewis, Lewis, Lewis is going to there''. I would act it out repeatedly in my Ipswich backyard with the commentary.

I remember the drama of the injuries and the chaos of players on and off the field changing positions and then Wally.

I remember Wally.

I named our son Lewis.

Queensland had 47% of the ball and missed 49 tackles but somehow found a win.

It is 31 years since the most famous Queensland win, Allan Langer broke his leg, Mal Meninga broke his cheekbone, Bob Lindner broke his leg, Michael Hancock did his AC joint and Paul Vautin hurt his elbow and Queensland played with 12 men.

It was an extraordinary Queensland team that would win two series in a row 3-0 and win eight games in a row by the time the third game was finished.

Their legacy was game two 1989.

It was 6-6 at half time and injuries were mounting.

Arthur Beetson
Arthur Beetson

Players were in foreign positions but it was a call to do your role from Queensland coach Arthur Beetson that stirred the Maroons to a win.

Queensland centre Tony Currie made 21 tackles that night, turning the Blues away as the Maroons famously hung on Currie would only run the ball four times his role became to defend his side at all costs.

"I remember a massive input from our props Martin Bella and Sam Backo," Currie recalled.

"We were so much into playing each play that we weren't concerned with the result or our injuries. The focus was on what was in front of us and the win took care of itself.

"We were led by a great captain and we loved Arthur Beetson."

Queensland scored a great team try deep in the second half. It is still 6-6 when Gene Miles takes the ball to centre field on halfway.

From there it was great hands as it went from Lewis, Hagan, Belcher, McIndoe to Shearer on the inside back to Hagan who is streaming through the middle to find Kerrod Walters to run 30 metres and score under the posts.

Walters fondly remembered his first Origin try.

"I am lucky it was only a short distance,'' Walters said.

"I just had to get to the line and it was great lead-up work and I just trialled along.

"I remember making tackles and being aware guys weren't on the field anymore. You would look around and another one was off injured.

"Just had to do your job with what we had."

While the injuries were piling up so were the tales of bravery that would enter Origin folklore and be retold and passed on for the next 31 years.

Coming off the bench to replace an injured Allan Langer after 18 minutes was Michael Hagan.

Hagan would end up making 28 tackles from the bench after subbing on for Alf, Hagan in only his second game of Origin, played a vital role in Walters' try and the famous Lewis try to win the game.

Hagan would replace Alf in game three and Wally in game one 1990. He was always doing his job when his state needed him. Hagan reflected on a special night.

"We had a makeshift footy team but showed tremendous spirit with outstanding leadership shown by Wally Lewis and Arthur Beetson who challenged us at half time to get the job done as he talked about the pride in the Queensland jumper,'' Hagan remembered.

"Arthur said how proud our fans would be back home if we showed some fight - which we did in a big way.

"I recall the sense of duty and doing my job within the team and how excited I was to be playing on the game's biggest stage alongside some legends including Wally, Mal and Geno."

A Queensland team legacy of doing your role no matter what the situation and making young boys fall in love with Origin and the Queensland team.

Wally Lewis and John McCoy working at 4BC
Wally Lewis and John McCoy working at 4BC

The footy voice of John McCoy

I WAS that child that had to know the score.

In the days when one game was on TV I would lay on my bed and listen to the football on a Sunday afternoon before I watched it.

The voice of Brisbane Rugby League from the 1970's on was John McCoy bringing you "4BC with rugby league let's go around the grounds''.

McCoy went to 4BC in 1971, and became the League caller when 4BC got the Brisbane League games.

"Most football was played on a Saturday and we did the races," McCoy remembered.

"Ron McAuliffe was a massive 4BC fan and would always have it on to listen to the sport and he said if I move the entire Brisbane league to Sunday would you be interested in calling it. So 4BC had the rights to call League in Brisbane from then."

The State League would bring trips to Ipswich for McCoy and some favourites.

"Calling the State League meant trips out to Ipswich,'' he said.

Allan Langer
Allan Langer

"I loved calling the Jets games and I have two favourites Allan Langer - he was just so intriguing with his size and ability - and Dirk Tazelaar was another favourite of mine.

"Cricket was his calling but his league career was underrated."

The State League did not always mean staying local either and a trip to Mount Isa for Valleys v North Queensland for McCoy.

"We went to Mt Isa to do this game between Valleys and North Queensland and it was the first time a lot of the Brisbane players had seen Barry Gomersall,'' McCoy said.

"The North Queensland boys knew what he was like. The brawl has started and of course they knew he would keep playing so while Valleys are punching away Eddie Muller has scored.

"Wally Lewis was blowing up and unhappy with the game not stopping."

On who his favourite player has been over his calling career, McCoy has little doubt.

"It has to be Wally. He was just tremendous for so long and so good to watch to call him every week was a real highlight for me and to be calling him from the start of his career and see how he evolved,'' he said.

One highlight that also involved Wally was the calling of the first State of Origin match 40 years ago.

"It represented a chance, a chance for Queensland to have our own players and be in with an opportunity,'' he said.

"I think it's fair to say if Queensland lose that first night, we only play one Origin.

"We wouldn't have had anywhere to go, if we lose we had been saying for 50 years give us back our players and let's see how it goes.

"I wouldn't have predicted the huge event it has become I don't think anyone would have but once Queensland won I thought well this can save our game a bit here."

McCoy would move to TV and call games for Fox but his first love was always calling league on radio.

"I just think radio makes you work a bit harder and have to describe things for listeners; sometimes you can be a bit lazier on TV.

"All the callers that I admire started on radio and I loved listening to them."

Cooper's stat

GREG Oliphant FOG 8 - 53 possessions, one forced drop out, 18 tackles, seven runs.