Standout hookers from years gone by
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.