Stand­out hook­ers from years gone by

Whitsunday Times - - SPORT -

WHIT­SUN­DAY rugby league his­to­rian Tony Price is writ­ing a book about the his­tory of rugby league in the Whit­sun­day re­gion lead­ing up to a player re­union this year. The Whit­sun­day Times is pub­lish­ing reg­u­lar ar­ti­cles by Mr Price in the lead up to the event. This week he lists some of the best ever Whit­sun­day front hook­ers.

The hooker in mod­ern rugby league is more like a half­back with his prime roll be­ing a dummy half or ball dis­trib­u­tor but in the 1960s and 1970s the hook­ers roll was to win the ball which was vi­tal to the suc­cess of the team.

The first hooker on the scene in the early 1970’s was Kevin ‘Bluey’ Nos­wor­thy from Proser­pine who played for the Brah­mans from 1967 when he ar­rived from Can­berra un­til the end of the 1973 sea­son.

Bluey played in the 1971 Fo­ley Shield Fi­nal and was highly re­garded in the Whit­sun­day com­pe­ti­tion.

Rus­sell El­lis (Bowen) was one of the su­per play­ers that en­sured that Whit­sun­day won the Fo­ley Shield in 1973.

A su­perb player he was as fast as most wingers and cap­tained Bowen in three ju­nior fi­nals in Townsville prior to win­ning the Fo­ley Shield. El­lis con­tin­ued with Bowen and in 1976 cap­tained the Bowen se­nior team to the North Queens­land B grade fi­nal which they won with him win­ning the Heat­ley Blazer as the best player on the ground.

Ed­die Muller (Proser­pine) was judged by the Townsville Bul­letin sev­eral years ago in a team de­scribed as North Queens­land Nat­u­rals and he was the only player in the team that wasn’t an in­ter­na­tional.

Muller was fast, skil­ful, tough and a great ball win­ner which was the hook­ers main aim in the 1970’s and prior to the 1990’s. He played for North Queens­land in the se­nior ranks when he was 17-years-old and also played for North Queens­land in his 30’s.

Michael Smith (Collinsville) ar­rived on the scene just as Muller left for greener pas­tures and Whit­sun­day lost noth­ing in com­par­i­son as he went onto play for North Queens­land and Queens­land Coun­try in a dis­tin­guished ca­reer. Smith was also an ac­com­plished goal kicker which added to his tal­ent. He played in nu­mer­ous North Queens­land fi­nals and won the 1982 Loloma Jewellers Award for the best un­der-19 player in North Queens­land.

Emanuel Cort­ibarte (Proser­pine) was a tal­ented ju­nior that had al­ready played for North Queens­land in un­der-18 ranks be­fore ar­riv­ing in the Whit­sun­day re­gion.

He was a great player that rep­re­sented North Queens­land against Great Bri­tain in 1986 and won the Loloma Jewellers Award as the best player in North Queens­land that same sea­son.

BEST EVER: Brah­mans le­gend Ed­die Muller was one of Proser­pine's best ever home grown rugby league tal­ents, play­ing for Queens­land in 1984 and win­ning the 1988 Syd­ney grand fi­nal with the Can­ter­bury Bull­dogs.

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