EDDIE LUMSDEN SCORED AT least one try in nine consecutive finals matches between 1957 and 1960. He also scored two grand final hat-tricks, in 1959 and 1961, and was on the wing for nine of the 11 grand finals, missing only the first (he joined the Dragons from Kurri Kurri at the start of the ’57 season) and 1960, when he suffered a knee injury. ‘Give him the ball ten metres from the other team’s tryline and put the glasses down,’ is how Johnny Raper captured his friend’s tryscoring ability.
In Never Before, Never Again, Lumsden wondered if modern players were better prepared for rugby league than the greats of 1956–66 …
‘I could be wrong, but I also think we were fitter. Sure, blokes today have all the hi-tech gym equipment and special diets, but we led outdoor lifestyles with lots of running and surfing and rowing surfboats. And most of us did heavy manual work for a crust, working on building sites, on the wharves, driving trucks. That’s not the case today. Players today don’t drink. We did. But I’m sure the fact that we were drinking buddies worked in our favour on the field. So much of our spirit in a game was engendered by playing up together as mates.
‘And we were naturals, unlike many modern players who are taught skills and fundamentals from specialist coaches. Yes, we learned plenty from Harry Bath and Killer [Kearney], but we could all attack and defend and could read a game. There’s no doubt in my mind that if they were playing today, Gasnier, Raper, Provan, Smith, Langlands, King would be the game’s superstars.’