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Wests will host their annual Heritage Round contest on Saturday at Sedgman Oval against GPS with the Bulldogs celebrating their rich history which dates back to 1951.
Wests Rugby Union Club was founded through the efforts of a Marist Brother named Cyprian O’Dowd and former Queensland Rugby Union Secretary Ron Haywood in the early 1950s.
The club only fielded one team and played in the reserve grade competition for the first year, but went on to win the premiership in that first season. Player numbers increased in the following years and the club was promoted to the first grade competition in 1955.
The Bulldogs mascot was adopted in 1956, and the club adopted the green and gold strip in 1961 when Wests amalgamated with the Toowong Rugby Club. The merger prompted a shift of home ground from Normanby in Spring Hill, to Memorial Park on Sylvan Road in Toowong where the club still plays today.
Wests won their first Hospital Cup in 1977 when one of the club’s most famous players, Stan Pilecki, was still packing down in the front row.
The first player to reach 100 games for Queensland (in 1982), Pilecki’s influence on the Queensland Rugby landscape will be felt for many years to come, with the Reds’ ‘Players’ Player of the year’ award named after the former Queensland and Australian representative, who racked up 122 caps in total for Queensland.
Pilecki, who still presents the award at the Reds Gala Ball, was especially happy in 2012 to present the medal to current Queensland and Australian prop James Slipper, who became only the second prop to win the award since its introduction in 1992.
Wests won their second Premiership in 1985, coached by Queensland great Alec Evans, and went on to become Australian Club champions in 1986 by defeating Parramatta. Later that year, Wests travelled to France and played Toulouse in the final of the World Club Championship, but unfortunately lost 11-6.
Wests boasted six players in the Australian squad for the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup, with Roger Gould, Troy Coker, Bill Campbell, Julian Gardner, and Brian Smith all selected.
In 1991, Wests won the Minor Premiership but lost the Grand Final to Souths, and a period of rebuilding on and off the field followed, including the introduction of the clubs first Women's team in 1994.
Wests began their resurgence in the late 1990’s, making the Premier Grand Final three years in a row from 1998 to 2000, but fell agonisingly short each time. They finally broke through to win the Premiership again in 2006, their first in 21 years, by beating rugby stronghold Brothers by one point, 23-22.
West’s have had a number of Wallaby greats grace the playing fields of Memorial Park with Bob Wood becoming their first Wallaby in 1969, before the likes of Pilecki, Chris Latham, Berrick Barnes, and Scott Higginbotham all progressed through to national honours.
Currently, Wests sit seventh on the ladder after a season where they have displayed some exciting attacking Rugby at times, leading to their first win of the season over University , but they have struggled to deliver such performances week in week out.
Wests recently had two solid wins over Norths where they racked up 105 points across the two games, but then lost to Souths this past weekend 24-7.
“We had a lot of opportunities against Souths but couldn’t finish them off,” said Wests Head Coach Pat Byron.
“The application and effort of the boys was really good though.”
As the team prepares to take on GPS this weekend, the Wests line-up sees first grade centre Tubinai Turaga step up into the 13-jersey as captain Brett Gillespie moves into inside centre.
“Tubinai has come up from first grade and has played well down there, we’ve had some injuries in the centres so Tubinai will get his opportunity this weekend,” said Byron.
Loosehead prop Ben Wedlock will also get his second start of the season after impressing Byron in the team’s previous two matches.
“Ben played well against Souths and was really impressive the week before off the bench against Norths so he has held his spot,” Byron said.
Jeeps are coming into this weekend’s game after an impressive performance against Easts where they edged the Tigers out 38-33, keeping them just within one point of table toppers Brothers.
The Gallopers have been graced with the presence of some of their top talent in their last few matches and Queensland Reds Radike Samo and Nick Frisby were both influential against the Tigers, the two both crossing over for tries.
This weekend they will be without Frisby with able replacement Sam Grasso stepping in at halfback, but Reds centre Anthony Faingaa has been named at inside centre in a massive boost for the side.
“GPS had Samo and Frisby play for them last time we played, but Anthony is a physical player who brings a lot of experience to their side,” said Byron.
Despite the tough challenge ahead Byron is optimistic about the match and excited to see the club celebrate their rich history.
“The club has a really proud tradition in the competition and as for the players and I this weekend, we need to make sure we put in a good performance and do the crowd and the old boys proud,” he said.
Wests Rugby Club
Scott Higginbotham, Berrick Barnes, Hugh McMeniman, John Roe, Chris Latham, Andrew Heath, Michael Foley, Matt Pini, Paul Carozza, Julian Gardner, Troy Coker, Brian Smith, Tim Lane, Bill Campbell, Roger Gould, Stan Pilecki, John Meadows, Bob Wood
Debbie Grylls, Tasilita Bethell, Vanessa Bradley, Se’ei Sa’u, Kate Porter
Geoff Abram, David Amosa, Berrick Barnes, Scott Barton, Bernie Bindon, Kent Bray, Mal Brew, Bill Campbell, David Campbell, Paul Carozza, Mark Catchpole, Troy Coker, Jeff Collins, Greg Core, Trevor Davies, Peter Dawson, Serafin Dengra, John Dun, Dick Eagles, Brenton Fielke, Michael Foley, David Forsyth, Mark Gabey, Greg Galligan, Julian Gardner, Chris Garrard, Reece Goode, Roger Gould, Nathan Grey, Luke Hammond, Scott Harris, Michael Hayes, Andrew Heath, Scott Higginbotham, John Heinke, Matthew Holt, Damian Hoo, Cullum Hughes, Julian Huxley, Paul Johnston, Rob Johnston, Bryan Kassulke, Tim Lane, Chris Latham, Poutasi Luafutu, Jack Martin, Hugh McMenamin, John Meadows, Ray Meagher, Jim Miller, Mike Mitchell, Nev McEwan, Kev McMahon, Pete Niumata, Ed O’Donoghue, Mark Peacock, Stan Pilecki, Matt Pini, Damien Reidy, John Roe, Clinton Schifcoske, Sam Scott-Young, Will Shaw, Ernest Skelton, Peter Slattery, Mike Slee, Brian Smith, Paul Smith, Graeme Thompson, Peter Vincent, Tim Walsh, Kent Warbrooke, Bernie Warnock, Scott Webster, Bob Wood, John Woodgate.
24 MARCH 2019