Second-rowers ain’t what they used to be
IN 1988 WAYNE PEARCE WORE No.8 on his back, identifying him as Balmain’s lock. In 1989 the same Wayne Pearce was readily identified by the number 13 on his black and gold jumper. The number switch came from the mouths of babes, the International Rugby League. They rebadged the forwards with the front-row wearing jumpers eight, nine and 10. The second rowers, 11 and 12, and Wayne and his like got saddled with the Devil’s number, 13.
Why? I still can’t find anybody who knows.
Today the number you wear doesn’t mean two hoots.
Eleven and 12 – what’s their role? Is it to play one or two off the ruck when in possession and make as much ground as possible? And in defence, to smother the opposing halves?
No. Gone are those days of a structured second-rower. That’s why so many past star 11s and 12s would struggle for recognition today.