Queensland Greatest 100: Eales reveals heroes
JOHN Eales is the most successful captain in the history of Australian rugby union.
Growing up, his heroes were all Queenslanders, from what he calls the "Holy Trinity" of his chosen sport to the state's entire cricket team battling in those days to win their first Sheffield Shield.
Eales, 48, is one of only a handful of Australians to have lifted rugby's World Cup trophy twice but his memories are just as vivid of the time Maryborough's Test swing bowler Geoff Dymock presented him with a trophy at the Mitchelton Cricket Club in the under-11s.
"I was so proud," he said. "Geoff was a great bowler, left arm, very economical and could do a fair bit with the ball.
"As a kid, rugby and cricket were my passions. The 'Holy Trinity' of rugby, Paul McLean, Mark Loane and Tony Shaw inspired me. Brendan Moon was from my old school Marist College, Ashgrove. I also could have named the whole Queensland Sheffield Shield team as my heroes, the likes of Greg Chappell, Allan Border, Jeff Thomson.
"There as was such a rivalry with New South Wales back then you grew up hating everything that wasn't Queensland and you had guys like Wally Lewis, another player I loved, who really pushed that rivalry to the fore."
As a youth, Eales combined rugby at the Brothers club with cricket at Queensland University where he was a first-grade all-rounder. Rugby won out.
He recalls his first game was with the Under-8s at the Ashgrove Emus in 1978. "We won the first game but it was the only game we won all year," he said.
"I still remember getting beaten 86-nil by Ascot-Clayfield in 20 minutes playing on just a quarter of the field.''
While many of the great Queensland rugby players came from a long line of footballers, Eales says he was probably the first in his family to take up the sport.
Eales, sure to feature high in our list of Queensland's greatest sporting heroes, was part of the Wallabies team that won the World Cup in 1991 and skippered the side that won it in 1999. He first represented his state in the under 19s for the Queensland Colts against the Yorkshire Colts.
Eales first represented his state in the under 19s for the Queensland Colts against the Yorkshire Colts.
"I felt so emotional pulling on that maroon jersey and for the next year (1990) I got to put on the Queensland senior jersey - the Reds jersey which it would be called now," he said. "The feeling was that it was not enough to be there, you had to win, you had to sacrifice everything to wear the jersey and it reinforced everything I had grown up feeling for Queensland."
In 1991, the 200cm lock debuted for the Wallabies and was part of the team that won the World Cup against England at Twickenham in London.