Five-eight and Captain/Coach 1951, 1952
Coach 1966, 1967.
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
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
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
O'Connell also coached Qld in
Sources: Smith 1991, pp 39 - 40;
Whiticker and Hudson , p 445.