THE SEASONS IMMEDIATELY AFTER St George’s 11 straight premierships, 1956–66, were dominated by South Sydney, who won four grand finals in five years. How did these exceptional Souths sides compare with the mighty Saints?
In the new epilogue to Never Before, Never Again, Johnny King provides the answer ….
‘As soon as a match is over [these days], players are off to recovery sessions to prepare for next week’s game. We had great times drinking and reliving every try and tackle with the blokes who’d just been trying to decapitate us. We were friends with the Wests and Souths fellows, particularly, who were our greatest rivals. Enemies on the field, mates off it. That’s rugby league.
‘We still see the old Rabbitohs, and the conversation always turns to who was the better team, us or the South Sydney sides that won the comp in 1967, ’68, ’70 and ’71.
‘I cut ’em off quick smart. “Let’s compare man for man, position for position,” I say. “John Sattler and John O’Neill or Bluey Wilson and Kevin Ryan? Elwyn Walters or Ken Kearney or Ian Walsh? Gary Stevens and Bob McCarthy or Norm Provan, Harry Bath and Dick Huddart? Ron Coote or Chook Raper? Bob Grant or Billy Smith? Jimmy Lisle or Pop Clay … Jimmy reckoned Poppa shortened his career … Bob Honan or Reg Gasnier, Michael Cleary and Brian James or Eddie and me? Eric Simms or Changa Langlands?”
‘There were no duds among those Rabbitohs but still, I rest my case. Argument over!’