Goonrey picks greatest Rugby League Team

The Cobar Roosters First Grade premiership winning team of 1997 contains four of Jim Goonrey’s greatest Cobar players ever, including Tom Good (back row far right), Peter Robinson (middle row second from left), Michael Spinks (middle row second from right) and Matt Ralph (front row second from left).

Having played 326 First Grade games for the Cobar Roosters (as well as coached Reserves and Junior teams and watched countless games at Tom Knight Memorial Oval), we called upon Jim Goonrey as someone of authority who could pick Cobar’s Greatest Rugby League Team.

Jim’s rugby league career with the Roosters spanned 34 years from 1965 (at age 16) until he retired 24 years later at age 40.

“I reckon I’ll get into trouble with my picks for this team,” Jim said. “Tommy Good for one won’t agree with me!”

“Individually there were some really good players who you could put in there above some of those that I’ve chosen but I think this bunch of blokes would have gelled well together as a team,” he said.

Jim made two selections for Fullback—Stan Ralph (who played 1965 to 1968) and Michael Spinks (who was part of the 1998 premiership winning team). “Stan was a brilliant defender and could attack as well. Mick was a very good attacking player,” Jim said.

His Wings were Norm Armstrong (who won the Amco Cup playing in Western Division in 1970) and Peter Robinson (1996/97).

“Norm wasn’t fast but he was tough and a very good defence,” Jim said.

Peter, who went on to play for Melbourne Storm, impressed Jim with his speed and size.

In the Centres, Jim picked Tom Sullivan (known as Tom the Maori), from 1965, and Fred Harvey from the 1984/85 sides.

Jim said while they were both very lazy trainers, both could attack. “Fred could also tackle and Tom could turn a game.”

1998 Group 11 Player of the Year Matt Ralph was picked as Five-Eighth. “He was just one of those brilliant players that had everything a footballer needed. He had good hands and he was quick,” Jim said.

Captain/coach of the Roosters 1971/72 team, Brian Lawrence was Jim’s pick for Halfback and his team captain. “He was a good leader, a good kicker, he spoke well and inspired his players.”

Jim’s No 8 jersey went to Tau Luki, the 1993 Player of the Grand Final and the season’s Best & Fairest Player. ‘He was big, strong and very mobile,” Jim recalls.

His other front rower was Roy Hamilton (from the 1971 Clayton’s Cup winning team).

“Roy hit them hard and whoever he tackled was always slow to get up.”

His Hooker(s) were Darren Jackson  and Peter Bannister. Darren started playing in 1998 under coach Scott Mieni. “He had brains, he dictated play, read the game well and was good at defence and attack.” Peter played 1971/72. “Peter’s defence was out of the ordinary. I remember he broke two front rowers’ collarbones [on separate occasions] tackling them around the ankles.”

Tom Good and Peter Ford were Jim’s Second Rowers. “Both were all round footballers. Tommy loved the game and was tough. Fordy was everywhere. When the opposition kicked back, he was always the first bloke to the ball.”

Jim’s pick for Lock was Ron Porter (who he played with in the 1968 grand final). “Ron was the best footballer I’ve seen in Cobar and he was playing in his early 30s then.”

On Jim’s bench were: ‘Iron Man’ Ray Pike (from the 60s) who was a tough player who could slot into Hooker or Second Row; Rod McMahon (70s)—a bloke who would push his team mates out of the way to get the ball; Dick Walsh (1998) a hard front-rower; and Jake Francisco (2006/07) who was a great halfback.