Terrace’s left winger for the 1981 season
Terrace’s premiership-winning 1981 side was part of a 5 year GPS Rugby winning era
spanning the years 1977 – 1981.
Terrace’s left winger for the 1981 season, Simon O’ Kane, has provided the Brave & Game team with his recollections of the 1981 season and his selection in the Firsts, whilst still only being in grade 11 that year. Before we do that, let’s turn to his player profile from the 1981 Terrace Annual.
SIMON O’KANE (left winger)
One of the many under 16 players to gain selection in the First XV.
Simon cemented a position in the team with typical Terracian spirited performances.
Simon’s strong running and willingness to be involved was his forte.
B&G: Simon, as you were only in grade 11 in 1981, were you expecting to be selected in the 1st XV?
Simon: No actually, I never thought I was going to play in the 1st XV that year. Even though the age group above us didn’t have much success through the grades, they still had a lot of very strong players. I was ecstatic when I found out I had been picked.
B&G: What was your most memorable game of the 1981 season? As a 16 year-old, were you still welcomed in the team by the senior players?
Simon: Well there were a lot of junior players in the team, I think there were seven of us. The senior players like Damien Kelly and Michael Lynagh did a great job accommodating the younger players. Their support really inspired the best out of us.
B&G: You were the left wing, had you always played that position?
Simon: Interestingly enough, I started my career in the junior grades as a front row forward! Over the years I ended up working my way into the backline playing wing and fullback. I just loved the freedom you had playing those positions. In the 1st XV, Steven Partridge, Michael Robson and I were the back three and we were very dangerous returning kicks.
B&G: Which game do you remember as the most memorable of the 1981 season?
Simon: I only ever beat Grammar once at rugby so that was definitely my most memorable win. I just remember the incredible intensity of that game. The Grammar front row was huge! Our front row would have been one of the smallest in the competition but they hung together and pushed them all over the paddock.
B&G: Well it sounds like the team was a great attacking force but I’ve heard that you were an excellent in defense. Is that fair to say?
Simon: Yes, we were very strong defensively. We only had two tries scored against us that season. One against Brisbane State High in the first round and one against Toowoomba Grammar in the second round. The centres, Jamie Keim and Ian Ralph were incredible in defence. Absolutely nothing went passed them. I don’t think the backline was broken once that season.
B&G: They must have been impressive because if you look at the scores there weren’t many close games that season. Was it as easy as it looks on paper?
Simon: Well it was never easy. The Churchie match in particular was a tough one. After we were down six points at half-time, we came back to win 13-6. We were a very positive side though and I think that was the reason why there weren’t a lot of close games. We played for the ‘magic seven point margin’. The team was always striving to get seven points ahead the team we were playing so we knew we had them beaten.
B&G: Lester Hampson, the assistant coach, helped Terrace through all five of their premierships from 1977 to 1981. What made his input so pivotal?
Simon: It was definitely Lester’s expansive rugby knowledge that made him so valuable to our team. He really understood the game, especially at a schoolboy level and his passion for the game inspired us all.
B&G: So you played in the 1982 and ’83 sides as well. How did those seasons compare to the 1981 season?
Simon: Well we thought we were a bit of a chance in ’82 and ’83 but it didn’t really go our way. We were fairly disappointed, especially in 1982, when we ended up becoming the first Terrace rugby team in six years not to win the premiership.
B&G: Simon, you live in Western Australia but I understand that you recently returned to Terrace, what was the occasion?
Simon: Well I was in the 1st XIII in 1982 that won the head of the river. We were invited back to the school for this year’s rowing dinner and we presented the team with a few photos of the old crew.
B&G: And finally, what message do you have for this year’s 1st XV?
Simon: Just believe in yourselves and your own abilities. Have the confidence to go out and do what you train to do. Good luck and give it your best!
Simon O’Kane completed senior at Terrace in 1983 and became a carpenter.
Simon travelled extensively and eventually settled in the small Western Australian town of Kununurra.
Simon currently works for Argyle Diamonds and is completing further studies in law.
Simon is happily married and a devoted father of three.