Ken Kearney

Last updated

Ken Kearney
Kearney 1953.jpg
Kearney 1953
Personal information
Full nameKenneth Howard Kearney
Born(1924-05-03)3 May 1924
Penrith, New South Wales, Australia
Died18 August 2006(2006-08-18) (aged 82)
Gold Goast, Queensland, Australia
Playing information
Rugby union
Position Hooker
Club
YearsTeamPldTGFGP
1942–48 Parramatta
Representative
YearsTeamPldTGFGP
1947–48 Australia 7
Rugby league
Position Hooker
Club
YearsTeamPldTGFGP
1948–51 Leeds 952006
1952–61 St. George 156182058
Total251202064
Representative
YearsTeamPldTGFGP
1952–58 New South Wales 1740012
1952–58 Australia 313009
Coaching information
Club
YearsTeamGmsWDLW%
1954-55, 195761 St. George 14111322680
196264 Parramatta 593522259
1965 Western Suburbs 18601233
196769 Cronulla-Sutherland 661415121
Total284168511159
Representative
YearsTeamGmsWDLW%
195657 Australia 970278
Source: [1]
As of 10 January 2016

Kenneth Howard "Killer" Kearney (3 May 1924 18 August 2006) was an Australian rugby footballer – a dual-code international player – and a rugby league coach. [2] He represented the Wallabies in seven Tests, and the Kangaroos in thirty-one Test matches and World Cup games. He captained Australia in nine rugby league Test matches in 1956 and 1957. He was a hooker and captain-coach with the St. George Dragons in the first half of their eleven-year consecutive premiership winning run from 1956 to 1966. He is considered one of Australia's finest footballers of the 20th century. [3]

Contents

Biography

Kearney was born in Penrith, New South Wales. He joined Parramatta's 1st grade rugby union side from school before serving in the Royal Australian Air Force in World War II and represented Combined Services in rugby union.

Rugby union career

After discharge from the Air Force he resumed playing rugby union in Australia and débuted for the Wallabies against the All Blacks playing two Tests in June 1947 then went on the 1947–48 Australian rugby union tour of Europe and North America, playing against each of the five European rugby union nations.

Rugby league career

Kearney circa 1952 Ken Kearney.JPG
Kearney circa 1952

Kearney returned to England at the end of the Wallabies tour and switched to the professional code of rugby league. After three seasons with Leeds he returned to Australia in 1952 and joined St George. He was captain-coach between 1954 and 1955, and later between 1957 and 1961.

At the end of his first club rugby league season back in Australia with St George, Kearney was selected for the 1952 Kangaroo tour. Kearney's international rugby league début in Bradford on 13 December 1952 saw him become Australia's 24th dual code rugby international, following Len Smith, and preceding Rex Mossop. Kearney played in the 3rd Test against Great Britain, all three tests against France, and sixteen minor tour matches. He is listed on the Australian Players Register as Kangaroo No.302. [4] He went on the 1953 tour of New Zealand playing in all three Tests and the following year represented in the 1954 Rugby League World Cup, the first ever, in France.

In 1956, the commencing year of the Dragons' record breaking run Norm Tipping had coached the team to an excellent season result of 15 wins, four losses and 1 draw but regardless would be ousted from the coaching job shortly after the grand final victory. He was the loser in a power struggle with Kearney, who led the side on-field and who that year had captained Australia to a three Test whitewash of New Zealand, had captained New South Wales to state victory over Queensland, won the Sunday Telegraph's Player of the Year award and ultimately captained St. George to premiership victory. The St George committee chose to back Kearney's fine football brain and his advanced strategies on attack, defence and conditioning in choosing him as their captain-coach to go forward. In the process they laid the foundation for the club's eleven-year premiership stranglehold. Following his premiership success with St George as both captain and coach, Kearney was selected as captain-coach of Australia for the 1956 trans-Tasman series against New Zealand with Clive Churchill unavailable due to injury. Australia won the series 3–0 to regain the trans-Tasman trophy that the Kiwis had held since 1935. Kearney stayed on a captain-coach for the 1956 Kangaroo tour in spite of the availability and tour selection of Churchill with whom he reportedly enjoyed an uneasy relationship. The touring side won all three Tests in France but lost against Great Britain 2–1. Kearney played in all Tests on tour.

Kearney played in an exceptionally talented Australian side who won the 1957 World Cup under captain Dick Poole, playing out one of the matches with a broken jaw. [5] and the 1958 domestic Ashes series under captain Brian Davies before retiring from international football.

Kearney brought tactics and strategy from English rugby league and is often credited with masterminding the St. George Dragons successful run. He was able to inspire loyalty in his players by leading from the front and to develop a level of fitness and ruthless, mistake free football. This discipline was the foundation for the famous straight line brick-wall defence that kept the St George team at the top through those years. He played 156 games from 1952 to 1961, captained the club in five winning Grand Finals (as captain-coach for the latter four) and coached them to further victory in 1961.

Post-playing

After retiring as a player Kearney stayed on with St George as coach for the remainder of the 1961 NSWRFL season before resigning.

He then coached the Parramatta Eels to the semi finals in 1962–1964. He coached the Western Suburbs Magpies club in 1965 and was the foundation coach for the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in their first three seasons, 1967–1969.

Kearney worked in insurance sales in Sydney for 25 years. He retired to the Gold Coast where he died in his home of a heart attack in 2006 aged 82. [6]

Accolades

He was awarded Life Membership of the St. George Dragons club in 1991. [7]

In 2006 he was inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame. [8] In February 2008, Kearney was named in the list of Australia's 100 Greatest Players (1908–2007) which was commissioned by the NRL, and ARL to celebrate the code's centenary year in Australia. [9] On 20 July 2022, Kearney was named in the St. George Dragons District Rugby League Clubs team of the century at hooker. [10]

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References

Footnotes

  1. Rugby League Project
  2. AFP (19 August 2006). "League great Kearney dies". ABC News Online. Australia: ABC . Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  3. Century's Top 100 Players Archived 25 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ARL Annual Report 2005
  5. Shepherd, Jim (1980). Encyclopedia of Australian sport. Australia: Rigby. p. 233. ISBN   9780727011190 . Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  6. AAP (19 August 2006). "Tributes pour in for 'Killer' Kearney". The Sydney Morning Herald . Australia: Fairfax Media . Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  7. Dragons - Our Proud History website
  8. Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame Archived 18 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  9. "Centenary of Rugby League – The Players". NRL & ARL . 23 February 2008. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2008.
  10. "Gasnier joins Immortals in St George Dragons 'Team of the Century'". www.nrl.com.

Sources

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Coach
Cronulla colours.svg
Cronulla-Sutherland

1967−1969
Succeeded by
Tommy Bishop
1970−1973
Preceded by
Jack Fitzgerald
1961-1964
Coach
Western Suburbs colours.svg
Western Suburbs

1965
Succeeded by
Noel Kelly
1966-1969
Preceded by
Ron Boden
1961
Coach
Parramatta colours.svg
Parramatta

1962−1964
Succeeded by
Ken Thornett
1965−1966
Preceded by Coach
St. George colours.svg
St George

1957–1961
Succeeded by
Norm Provan
1962–1965
Preceded by
Vic Hey
1954-1955
Coach
Flag of Australia (converted).svg
Australia

1956-1957
Succeeded by
Preceded by Coach
St. George colours.svg
St George

1954–55
Succeeded by
Preceded by Captain
Flag of Australia (converted).svg
Australia

1956-57
Succeeded by