RUGBY LEAGUE MAY NEVER have had a better left centre/ left winger combination than Reg Gasnier and Johnny King. The two were a class act for the Dragons from 1960 (King’s debut season) to 1967 (Gasnier’s final year of football).
The two had played in the St George juniors — Gasnier for Renown United, King for Arncliffe Scots. In Never Before, Never Again, Gasnier recalled their partnership ...
‘The last thing I expected to do was worry about whether my winger was in position. But with Johnny I never even had to look. I knew he would be out there perfectly positioned. If the defence was coming across and crowding him he’d come inside me and always let me know, “With you, with you, with you, Gaz. I’m inside, I’m inside. I want it. I want it now!” And if he said that he got it, because I knew he would have sized up the situation and decided he was in a better position than me to carry on the movement. If he said, “Hang onto it,” then I’d go myself. I learned to follow his voice and know exactly where he was.’
Now, King remembers Gasnier, and how the two worked together in the days when a try was worth three points ...
‘I relied on my ability to be in the right spot at the right time. Johnny on the Spot, that was me. I could read the play and anticipate what would happen with each movement. If the defence was drifting across I’d hang back then cut inside and take the pass from Reggie running at an angle to wrongfoot the defenders sweeping across. Reg would be full steam ahead for the corner and I’d cut inside and yell, “Now!” and he’d pass the ball back, sometimes over his shoulder, right where I wanted it, and it would be three points. Occasionally we’d work it so when I called “Now!” or “Mine!” he’d keep running and score while all the tacklers who were expecting him to pass swamped me.
‘Reg was tremendous over that first 30 metres, the best acceleration of anyone who’s ever played the game. When he put his head back you knew he was in top gear.
‘Reggie and I on the left side of the field had a competition with Eddie Lumsden and either Johnny Riley, Dave Brown or Billy Smith who played right wing and centre. Whoever scored the least number of tries bought the beers.’