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Wally O'Connell

Coach 1950
Five-eight and Captain/Coach 1951, 1952
Coach 1966, 1967.

See Also:

Leagues Little Big Man
First of the Legends
Wally on Today's Game

An Australian International five-eighth, Wally O'Connell became a Manly legend by sitting out the 1950 season and forfeiting certain test representation to honour his agreement to coach Manly.

An Easts junior, Wally represented Sydney in 1943-44 and played in Easts premiership winning side in 1945. On the 1948-49 Kangaroo tour, Wally appeared in all five tests, captaining Australia in the First Test against Great Britain.

On his return, he took on a captain-coach position in Wollongong but when he attempted to join Manly as captain-coach in 1950. Easts appealed to the NSWRL. The Residential Status Committee ruled that he had not qualified to play for the Sea Eagles and ordered him to play with Easts.

In order to honour his agreement to coach Manly. O'Connell sat out the 1950 season than play with his former club thereby forfeiting his Test position for the Ashes series against Great Britain.

Captain-coach of Manly in 1951-52, O'Connell regained his Test spot against France in 1951.

Wally led Manly to its first Grand Final in 1951 although he missed playing in the Grand Final because of injury. He was forced to retire as a player in 1952 because of a recurring eye injury. Wally played 34 games for Manly in 1951 and 1952, scoring 11 tries.

He remained a Manly stalwart after retiring from playing and returned to coach the first grade side in 1966 and 67. These were important formative years leading up to Manly's grand final appearance in 1968 and it's first premiership in 1972.

O'Connell also coached Qld in 1973.

Sources: Smith 1991, pp 39 - 40; Whiticker and Hudson , p 445.


Wally as coach of Manly 1950


Wally hams it up on the 1948/49 Kangaroo tour with Keith Froome and Bruce Hopkins