Harry Wells to be inducted into Sports Australia Hall of Fame

Harry Wells during his playing days.

Harry Wells during his playing days.

Telegraph’s Point’s Harry Wells will be formally Inducted to the Sport Australia Hall of Fame on October 13.

To be inducted into The Sport Australia Hall of Fame is the greatest honour that can be bestowed.

Wells, a patron of the Mid North Coast NSW Men of League, was a dashing centre who could have easily plied his trade in country leagues around NSW if not for fate and his exceptional abilities, which delivered state and national jerseys and a Sydney premiership during a rugby league career that lasted two decades.

But despite his record, the name Harry Wells is lucky to be in the record books at all, let alone as an inductee into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame as an athlete member for rugby league.

He played 29 tests for Australia in a career that saw him play for South Sydney and Western Suburbs in addition to representation for NSW and at three World Cups for the Kangaroos.

In his first year in Sydney, having moved from Wollongong, he played in the 1951 premiership winning side with South Sydney in their 42-14 win over Manly alongside fellow Sport Australia Hall of Fame member Clive Churchill.

“I was picked as a reserve grader and the only time I played first grade was when someone was injured,” Wells, now 84, recalled.

Despite boasting a premiership win, Wells decided to move back home, and as fate would have it, he feels the decision was the secret to his rapid rise though the rugby league ranks.

“I’d played a handful of first grade games and played in the grand final but over the summer period I thought if I go back to Souths again, I’m only going to go back to reserve grade and I didn’t feel I was getting anywhere so I went back to Wollongong,” Wells said.

In 1952 good form in Wollongong saw Wells picked in the Possible’s versus the Probable’s resulting in selection in the NSW Country side. A good game resulted in selection for NSW and he again played an eye-catching game.

“That night I got picked for the Kangaroos. If I hadn’t done what I did, I probably would have still been playing reserve grade for South Sydney,” Wells said.

The 1952 tour saw the first of 29 test appearances. He represented Australia in eight World Cup matches across three World Cup campaigns in 1954, 1957 and 1960 and formed a strong combination with Sport Australia Hall of Fame legend and member Reg Gasnier - with the duo playing 12 tests together.

Harry Wells

Harry Wells

“I played with some wonderful players, great players. Churchill and all these blokes. They helped me along and we played for Australia and for each other.  The honour and glory was there to play for Australia.”

Despite playing for state and country it wasn’t until 1956 that Wells returned to the Sydney premiership, this time with Western Suburbs.

He played 85 games for the ‘Magpies’ from 1956 to 1961 where he scored 32 tries and captained the club in the 1958 grand final loss to St George, who were three years into their incredible 11 consecutive premiership wins.

Three further seasons at Wests' preceded a return to the country before retiring in 1972 at the age of 40 – after two decades in the game.

“My knee was crook – I hurt my knee in 1961 and I couldn’t get it right. Wests' said to me they’d put me on transfer but I said no. South Sydney rang me up and offered a three year contract but I said ‘no, no’. I don’t know how my knees going to be and you’re going to pay me money that I mightn’t be able to fulfill for you – my knees crook.”

After a lifetime in league, Wells was named at centre in the Western Suburbs and West Tigers Team of the Century and in 2007 he was inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame. 

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