Wayne Pearce

Last updated

Wayne Pearce
Personal information
Full nameWayne John Pearce
Born (1960-03-29) 29 March 1960 (age 61)
Balmain, New South Wales, Australia
Playing information
Height180 cm (5 ft 11 in)
Weight89 kg (14 st 0 lb)
Position Lock, Second-row
Club
YearsTeamPldTGFGP
1980–90 Balmain Tigers 1933300123
Representative
YearsTeamPldTGFGP
1983–88 New South Wales 1630012
1982–88 Australia 1960021
1983–88 NSW City 61004
Coaching information
Club
YearsTeamGmsWDLW%
199499 Balmain Tigers 15855110135
2000 Wests Tigers 261121342
Total18466311436
Representative
YearsTeamGmsWDLW%
199901 New South Wales 951356
Source: [1] [2]

Wayne John Pearce OAM (born 29 March 1960 in Balmain, New South Wales) is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer and coach. An athletic lock for the Balmain Tigers, he was affectionately known as 'Junior'. Pearce represented New South Wales in the State of Origin series as well as the Australian national rugby league team.

Contents

Pearce was captain of the Balmain Tigers rugby league club from 1982 to 1990. A local junior from the Balmain Police Boys club, he made his debut in 1980 and was quickly marked as a future star.

Pearce's son, Mitchell, is a half-back previously for the Sydney Roosters and currently for the Newcastle Knights.

Captaincy

Pearce's captaincy proved critical in elevating Balmain from also-rans to a force of the 1980s, in concert with Steve Roach, Benny Elias and, later, Paul Sironen. Along with fullback Garry Jack, they drove Balmain to the semi-finals in 1983 and every year from 1985 to Pearce's retirement. Pearce won the Rothman's Medal for the best-and-fairest player in 1985.

In 1986 Pearce captained the New South Wales Blues to their first-ever State of Origin clean sweep, but in the following two years there was to be a rapid decline, with Queensland easily winning every match in 1988. After this, Pearce stood down from representative rugby league, despite pressure for him to return after Queensland won even more easily in 1989. In 1988 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia "for service to rugby league". Pearce was also the inaugural winner of the Ken Stephen Medal for Community Service by a professional rugby league footballer. [ citation needed ]

Pearce also made an appearance the 1988 Australian television movie The First Kangaroos , which depicted the 1908–09 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain. [3]

Pearce captained the Balmain Tigers to two successive grand finals in 1988 and 1989, both of which they lost. In 1990, Pearce could not play a full match until the seventeenth round, but for the rest of the season he was at his best, seen clearly in the play-off for fifth with Newcastle, when he scored a crucial try from a bomb and carted the ball forward as fearlessly as ever. The following week, though, proved to be his last match as Balmain lost 0–16, sparking a major decline in the club's fortunes after Pearce's retirement.

Coaching career

Pearce took over as Balmain coach in 1994 from the departing Alan Jones as the club finished with the wooden spoon at season's end. Pearce coached Balmain for another five seasons before they merged with the Western Suburbs Magpies. In 2000, Pearce became the inaugural coach of the Wests Tigers but stepped down after one season. Pearce also coached New South Wales for three seasons and in 2000 led New South Wales to a clean sweep winning the series 3–0 with the Blues winning game 3 by a then-record margin of 40 points. The match was also remembered for Bryan Fletcher's infamous hand-grenade try celebration. In 2001, Pearce coached NSW in what would prove to be his last series. His last game in charge was the widely remembered victory by Queensland who defeated NSW 40–14 where Allan Langer who had been playing over in England was phoned by Maroons coach Wayne Bennett in an urgent SOS call to return to Australia for the match. The next day, Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph wrote the headline "Bloody Alf". [4] [5] [6]

Accolades

In February 2008, Pearce 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. [7] [8]

Post-retirement

After 10 years as a rugby league commentator for Fox Sports, Pearce was appointed as one of the eight inaugural commissioners of the Australian Rugby League Commission at its reconstitution in February 2012. A peak performance facilitator and executive coach, he continues to run his leadership and team performance consultancy Wayne Pearce Advantage. [3] He also fronts the rock cover band Wayne Pearce and the Big Hitters. [7] On Sunday 17 April 2016, before Wests Tigers versus Melbourne Storm in round 7 (26 years after his retirement), the Hill surrounding Leichhardt Oval was named the Wayne Pearce Hill after him by the Leichhardt Municipal Council and the Wests Tigers Club.

Project Apollo

On 23 March 2020, following the completion of round 2 of the NRL Telstra Premiership, the ARL Commission decided to postpone the competition in the face of a rapidly rising COVID-19 community infection rate. This had enormous, adverse financial implications for the NRL and its stakeholders. On 27 March, Commission Chairman appointed Wayne Pearce to select and lead a crisis management team to resume a successful 2020 competition ASAP. This complex mission was called Project Apollo. Despite many setbacks, including Channel Nine threatening to cancel their broadcast deal and the referees initiating steps towards strike action, the NRL competition became one of the first professional sports codes in the world to restart the competition on 28 May. A revised 20-round competition concluded with the Grand Final being played on Sunday, 25 October. For the first time in history, the State of Origin series was played after the Grand Final, with the NRL season concluding at the completion of Origin 3 on 18 November.

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References

  1. RLP
  2. Rugby League Project Coaches
  3. 1 2 John Robinson and Garrett Jones (8 June 1988). "Family fights to clear League Hero's Name". The Sydney Morning Herald . Australia. p. 74. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  4. "Wayne Pearce | About Wayne".
  5. "Leichhardt Oval hill to be Wayne Pearce Hill". 29 March 2016.
  6. "Origin's great controversies". 22 May 2012.
  7. 1 2 Peter Cassidy (23 February 2008). "Controversy reigns as NRL releases top 100 players". Macquarie National News. Archived from the original on 25 February 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2008.
  8. "Centenary of Rugby League – The Players". NRL & ARL . 23 February 2008. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2008.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Joint Venture
Coach
Wests Tigers colours.svg
Wests Tigers

2000
Succeeded by
Terry Lamb
2001–2002
Preceded by
Alan Jones
1991–1993
Coach
Balmain colours.svg
Balmain Tigers

1994–1999
Succeeded by
Joint Venture
Preceded by
Tommy Raudonikis
1997–1998
Coach
New South Wales colours.svg
New South Wales
State of Origin

1999–2001
Succeeded by
Phil Gould
2002–2004