Almanac Rugby League: Orange rugby league’s best ever 17



Michael Croke and Nick Tedeschi sat down recently to choose their best ever 17 to have represented Orange in rugby league. Their major criterion was that all players must have played some junior football in Orange including Under-18s.


  1. Bobby Priest
    Bob Priest played with Orange Ex-Services. The ultimate utility back, Priest captained NSW Country and represented Western Division and Riverina and Groups 9, 10 and 20. He coached Griffith Waratahs to three consecutive premierships in the late ‘70s. He is acknowledged as one of the greatest footballers Orange has produced and one of the greatest country players to never play in the premiership.


  1. Noel Hurford
    The former captain-coach of Ex-services and Hawks, the versatile Hurford played premiership football with Western Suburbs in 1971. In a tough season for the Magpies, Hurford kicked four goals. Hurford played in three straight losing Grand Finals for Ex-Services in the mid-1970s.


  1. Jack Wighton
    The only Orange-born winner of the Dally M Medal, Wighton has enjoyed an outstanding premiership career with Canberra since debuting in 2012. Wighton has represented the Indigenous All Stars and NSW Country and has become a staple for NSW over the last three seasons. The hard-running back guided Canberra to the 2019 Grand Final, becoming the second Orange-born player to win the Clive Churchill Medal.


  1. Evan Cochrane
    A robust three-quarter whose premiership career spanned seven seasons, Cochrane enjoyed a nomadic time in the top grade, playing for four NRL clubs during the cut-and-thrust of the 1990s. Cochrane debuted for Wests in 1992 before switching to South Sydney and then the Sydney Tigers, scoring two doubles in seven games for the latter in 1995. He enjoyed most success at Newcastle, playing 21 games across 1997-98 including coming off the bench in the ‘97 major Qualifying Final on the Knights’ march to their inaugural premiership.


  1. Tom Commins
    A star winger of the 1950s who played all his football in the bush, he was central to CYMS’ dominance in the latter part of the decade. He scored the opening try in the 17-6 Group 10 Grand Final win and then scored the only try in a rain-sodden 5-4 win in the ‘59 decider.


  1. James Maloney
    A rugged competitor who won nearly everywhere he played, Maloney enjoyed a long premiership career across five NRL clubs before taking Catalans to their best ever season. After coming through the ranks at Parramatta and having a brief stint at Melbourne, the clever No 6 helped steer New Zealand to a Grand Final before winning premierships with the Sydney Roosters and Cronulla. He finished his premiership career helping Penrith back into title contention, finishing with 247 NRL games and 1825 points. He played 14 Origins for NSW and three Tests for Australia.


  1. Daniel Mortimer
    Young half Daniel broke into First Grade in 2009 and enjoyed a magnificent rookie season, starting at five-eighth in the Eels’ losing Grand Final effort. Spent seven further seasons in the NRL as a starting half and effective bench player with the Eels, Roosters and Titans before a farewell stint with Cronulla.


  1. Darren Britt
    A hulking prop forward renowned for having a deft offload, Britt debuted for Wests in 1989 and played five seasons with the Magpies before moving to Canterbury in 1994. He played in three Grand Finals including the 1995 premiership in his eight seasons at the Bulldogs, captaining Canterbury for the final four of those. Britt played nine Tests for Australia before he won a Super League title with St Helens.


  1. Bob Lindfield
    Outstanding hooker who was among the best rakes in the game in the interceding years between the two World Wars, Orange-born Lindfield played 14 years at the top level for Western Suburbs and then Canterbury in the first two years of their existence. Lindfield won premierships with Wests in 1930 and ‘34. He represented NSW in 1928.


  1. Jesse Bromwich
    Auckland-born Bromwich played with Orange Hawks before signing with the Melbourne Storm and becoming one of the top props of the NRL Era. The fierce front rower has played 12 seasons at the top-level, winning three premierships and playing in a further two Grand Finals. He has played 29 Tests for New Zealand, including captaining his homeland, while he won Dally M Prop of the Year honours in 2016.


  1. Paul Dunn
    Talented forward who bookended a 13-year premiership career with the Roosters, Dunn reached the highest echelons of the game, representing Australia seven times including three times on the fabled ‘86 Kangaroo Tour. He also played three Origins for NSW. His best football came during his five years at Canterbury, winning the 1988 Clive Churchill Medal. Dunn won a second premiership with Penrith in 1991 before winding up his career with Parramatta and then a final year at the Roosters.


  1. Troy Campbell
    Orange born hooker/backrower Campbell made his debut for Parramatta in 1994 before becoming a regular in the Eels team from 1995-97, playing 63 First Grade games for the club. Campbell signed with the Gold Coast in 1998 but played just three games with the Chargers before retirement.


  1. Mark Lowry
    A hard-working lock forward who started his career with Orange Hawks, Lowry shifted to Canberra during their heyday. He made his First Grade debut in 1989, the year of the Raiders’ first premiership, and played 27 games across the next five years. Lowry made appearances from the bench in all three finals in 1989 before failing to get on in the decider.




  1. Garret Crossman
    Hard-nosed Orange Hawks prop Crossman joined Penrith as part of the pipeline from the Central West and came off the bench in the Preliminary Final in his debut season. He shifted to Melbourne in 2006 and played finals in his two years with the club before a two-year encore with South Sydney.


  1. Jason McLean
    Talented playmaker who achieved representative honours with the NSW Under 19s team while playing for Orange CYMS in 1989. Signed by Canterbury in 1990, he debuted in Round 12 at fullback, scoring his only try against Easts in his five-game debut season. Played one further match for the Bulldogs in 1992 before signing with Cronulla and playing one match off the bench in 1993.


  1. James Carrick
    A speedy winger who made it to the Sydney premiership just a month after his 20th birthday, called into First Grade by Alan Jones for the Balmain Tigers. Played just four games for Balmain but crossed twice, including off the bench on debut. He later returned to play with Hawks during their renaissance in the late 1990s.


  1. Mitchell Sargent
    Canowindra-born prop who enjoyed a 115-game premiership career with Melbourne, North Queensland and Newcastle. A rugged prop forward who had few frills but an abundance of toughness, he played in seven finals matches including coming off the bench in the 2005 Grand Final.



Four players went on to represent Australia while one has represented New Zealand.


One player has been honoured with the Dally M Medal while, remarkably, two players from Orange have won the Clive Churchill Medal.


Five of the 17 went on to win premierships spanning 91 seasons from Bob Lindfield in 1930 to Jesse Bromwich in 2020.


All bar two players turned out at premiership level.


Chris McKivat, arguably the greatest player from Orange, was not considered as Rugby League was not played in Australia during his formative years. McKivat was named as one of the game’s 100 Greatest Players but was also a dual international and Olympic gold medallist who went on to coach North Sydney to their only two premierships.



To read more on the Almanac by Michael Croke click here.


To read more on the Almanac by Nick Tedeschi click here.



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Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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  1. Thanks guys, a brief intro as to how and why RL started in Orange and what were the first set of teams would help set your piece up better, in my view.

    Did RL take over from rugby? Who played? This, of course, may be beyond the scope of your purpose.
    But it would add interest.

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