Johnny King

Johnny King

Infobox rugby league biography
playername = Johnny King
fullname = John King

caption =
country =
position = Winger
currentclub =
dateofbirth = 1943
placeofbirth = Gilgandra
countryofbirth = Australia
height =
weight =
club1 = St. George
year1start = 1960–1971
year1end =
appearances1 = 195
tries1 =
goals1 =
fieldgoals1 =
points1 = 443
teamA = New South Wales
yearAstart = 1963–1970
yearAend =
appearancesA = 8
triesA =
goalsA =
fieldgoalsA =
pointsA = 37
teamB = Australia
yearBstart = 1966–1970
yearBend =
appearancesB = 13
triesB =
goalsB =
fieldgoalsB =
pointsB = 18
updated =
source =
new = yes

Johnny King (born 1943, Gilgandra, New South Wales) is an Australian former rugby league footballer and coach. He was a winger with the St. George Dragons for the last seven years of their eleven consecutive premiership-winning run from 1956 to 1966. He was a representative in the Australian national team from 1966-1970, earning thirteen Test caps. He is considered one of the nation's finest footballers of the 20th century. [ [ Century's Top 100 Players] ]

Early life

King's early life alternated between Sydney and north western New South Wales. His father, Cec King, was a motor mechanic who had stints working at Gulgong, Gilgandra and Gulargambone. Cec King, had played 19 matches for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in reseves and first grade in 1943 and 1944. [ [ South Sydney Official Player History] ] Johnny King was an apprentice jeweller at aged 16 in Gilgandra before moving to Sydney to continue his trade. In 1958 he joined the Arncliffe Scots D grade junior rugby league side as a fullback and the following year played in the St George Dragons' Presidents Cup side. He trialled with the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 1959 but was turned down by coach Bernie Purcell.

Club career

He was graded in 1960 to the Dragons third grade side and towards of the end of the 1960 season played five games on the wing in first grade including the 1960 Grand Final victory over the Eastern Suburbs Roosters in which he scored two tries.

King scored the only try of the 1964 Grand Final at the end of an extraordinary passage of play. The Balmain Tigers were desperately defending their own line five minutes into the second half when they were awarded a relieving penalty. Their kicker, Bob Boland, failed to find touch by inches as the ball fell into the outstretched hands of Saints fullback Graeme Langlands who then raced across field and sent a long cut-out pass to Billy Smith 25 yards out from the tryline. Smith off-loaded to King, who sped the remaining 20 yards down the left wing and scored a diving try.

King played 191 games for the Dragons between 1960 and 1971 scoring 143 tries - a club record at the time. He played in seven of the premiership decider victories and holds the distinctive record of scoring six tries over six consecutive winning Grand Final appearances from 1960 to 1965. He was the NSW Rugby League's leading try-scorer in the 1961 (20 tries) and 1965 (15 tries) seasons.

He retired after one match of the 1971 season following a driving accident in which he suffered three crushed vertebrae.

The man and his playing style

King was a clever positional winger with good speed. He formed a dangerous left-centre, left-wing partnership with Australian rugby league Immortal Reg Gasnier and scored many of his 143 club tries by being perfectly positioned to finish off after breaks by his inside men.

Between the 1964 and 1965 seasons King showed incredible fortitude to recover from a serious lawnmower accident in which his foot was partially severed to be running and fully fit for round seven of 1965, play out the season including scoring yet another Grand Final try and then go on to top form and national selection in 1966.

Representative career

He first played for New South Wales against a touring Great Britain side in 1962 and then again in 1963, 1964 and 1965. He was at that time vying for the national wing position against his great club rivals Ken Irvine, Peter Dimond and Michael Cleary. He later represented for New South Wales in 1969 and 1970 and scored nine career tries for the Blues.

He finally made his Australian Test debut in the 1966 domestic Ashes series against Great Britain where he appeared in all three Tests. He was selected on the 1967 Kangaroo tour making six Test appearances and playing in twelve minor tour matches. He was the tour's second highest try scorer with a tally of nine.

He was in the Australian squad for the 1968 World Cup and made two tournament appearances scoring two tries. He made a single Test appearance against New Zealand in 1967 and played his three final Test matches against the touring Great Britain Lions of 1970.

Post playing

After football King returned to north-western New South Wales and ran a hotel in Wellington. His career since has been in managing hotels and clubs. He coached Western Division to a surprise victory in the inaugural Amco Cup Final 1974. Returning to Sydney in 1976 he coached South Sydney. In 1984 John King coached Country Seconds to an upset win over Sydney.

In February 2008, King was named in the list of Australia's "100 Greatest Players" (1908–2007) which was commissioned by the NRL and ARL tocelebrate the code's centenary year in Australia. [cite web|publisher="NRL & ARL"|title=Centenary of Rugby League - The Players|url=|accessdate=2008-02-23|date=2008-02-23]

First class matches played



* Writer, Larry (1995) "Never Before, Never Again", Pan MacMillan, Sydney
* Andrews, Malcolm (2006) "The ABC of RugbY League", Australian Broadcasting Corpn, Sydney
* Whiticker, Alan & Hudson, Glen (2006) "The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players", Gavin Allen Publishing, Sydney

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