Rod Wishart

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Rod Wishart
Personal information
Full name Roderick James Clarke Wishart
Nickname Rocket
Born (1968-10-15) 15 October 1968 (age 45)
Gerringong, New South Wales, Australia
Playing information
Height 178 cm (5 ft 10 in)
Weight 88 kg (13 st 12 lb)
Position Wing
Club
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1989–98 Illawarra Steelers 154 68 386 0 1044
1999 St. George Illawarra 23 10 4 0 48
Total 177 78 390 0 1092
Representative
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1990–98 New South Wales 22 5 23 0 66
1991–96 Australia 17 13 43 0 138
Source: NRL Stats and Rugby League Project

Rod Wishart (born 15 October 1968 in Gerringong, New South Wales) is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer of the 1990s. A New South Wales State of Origin and Australian international representative goal-kicking winger, he played club football with the Illawarra Steelers and the St. George Illawarra Dragons of the National Rugby League.

Playing career[edit]

Wishart, who played both centre and wing in his junior years, grew up in his home town of Gerringong. There he was coached by former international centre Mick Cronin. He first came to attention in 1988 when he played for Country Firsts. Later in the year he played against Papua New Guinea for both Southern Division and NSW Country, kicking goals in both victories.[1]

Illawarra Steelers[edit]

Wishart played his first match for the Illawarra Steelers in 1989, finished his rookie season as the club's top point-scorer with 84 from 2 tries and 37 goals from his 19 games. During the season he scored a try in the Steelers 18-20 loss to the Brisbane Broncos in the 1989 Panasonic Cup Final at Parramatta Stadium.

He made his State of Origin debut on the wing for New South Wales in 1990, and in the second test of the 1991 Trans-Tasman Test series against New Zealand at the Sydney Football Stadium, Wishart became the second Steelers player after Alan McIndoe to be selected to play for Australia and the first Steelers junior to do so. He scored a try on debut in Australia's 44-0 win, but suffered a broken eye socket after being hit high soon after scoring by Kiwi forward Dean Lonergan. The injury wasn't enough to keep him out of Australia's 40-12 win in the deciding third test at Brisbane's Lang Park, where he scored his second of an eventual 10 test career tries.

Despite being in good goal kicking form for the Steelers in the 1991 Winfield Cup, having kicked 33 of 43 goals (76.7%) before making his test debut on 24 July, Wishart wasn't the first choice goal kicker for either New South Wales or Australia. Blues coach Tim Sheens preferred Manly-Warringah's Michael O'Connor in the role despite O'Connor having kicked only 1 goal from 1 attempt before the Origin series, while Australian coach Bob Fulton preferred team captain Mal Meninga who had kicked 34 from 60 (56.6%) for the Canberra Raiders and only 4 from 11 (36.3%) for Queensland before Wishart's first test.

Rod Wishart was a strong ball runner and kicker, due to his powerful quadriceps muscles. They were so impressive, he often had trouble finding suitable team attire. Testament to this was that he was once sighted on a flight returning from playing the Brisbane Broncos in 1990, in a team shirt, tie, and team football shorts.

Wishart had an exceptional State of Origin career, making 22 appearances for New South Wales between 1990 and 1998, scoring 66 points from 5 tries and kicking 23 goals. He was NSW first choice goal kicker between 1992 and 1995, after which the job generally went to boom Newcastle Knights halfback Andrew Johns.

During the 1992 Great Britain Lions tour of Australia and New Zealand, he helped Australia retain The Ashes, playing in the first two tests before missing the third through injury. For the first two tests Wishart had been Australia's first choice goal kicker, though ironically in a reverse of 1991 he was only the Steelers second choice kicker that year behind Ryan Girdler. Injury would also keep him out of Australia's victorious 1992 World Cup team at the end of the 1992 season, the first year in their history in which Illawarra had qualified for the NSWRL finals.

Wishart failed to regain his test place in 1993, despite good performances for the Steelers and NSW, who won their second Origin series in a row as Australia selectors preferred World Cup wingers Willie Carne and Michael Hancock. He was again the Steelers leading point and try scorer for the 1993 season, scoring 118 points from 11 tries and 37 goals. His goal kicking for the Steelers slumped during the season, giving him a career worst 48.05% after kicking just 37 from 77 attempts

His goal kicking improved dramatically in the 1994 NSWRL season, and his continued good form at club and state level saw him selected on the 1994 Kangaroo tour. Wishart and team mate Paul McGregor became the first two, and only, Illawarra Steelers players to be selected for a Kangaroo Tour. Rod Wishart went on to be the top point scorer on the tour, scoring 174 points from 8 tries and 71 goals in 11 games played. He also played in three of the four tests on tour, coming into the side for the second test against Great Britain at Old Trafford. He kicked 7 goals as the Kangaroos leveled the test series with a 38-8 win, and wrapped up the series at Elland Road two weeks later with Wishart crossing for the Kangaroos opening try of the second half. He then played on the wing in Australia's 74-0 demolition of France, scoring a personal best of 26 points from a try and 11 goals.

In 1995 and 1996, Wishart was awarded the BHP Medal as the Steelers' player of the year. During this time, Wishart remained loyal to the Australian Rugby League during the Super League War. He played in NSW's surprise 3-0 loss to Queensland in the 1995 State of Origin series, and retained his place on the wing for Australia in all three tests of the 1995 Trans-Tasman series against New Zealand, won 3-0 by the ARL only Australian's (the ARL had ruled that Super League aligned players were not eligible for selection). He top scored for Australia during the series with one try in the third test, and 17 goals, including kicking 5/5 in both the first and second tests.

At the end of 1995, Rod Wishart scored a try in Australia's 16-8 win over England in front of 66,540 at London's famous Wembley Stadium in the World Cup Final.

A serious shoulder injury restricted Wishart to just 5 games in 1997. Injury also restricted him to just 15 games in 1998.

By the end of the Illawarra Steelers final season in 1998, Rod Wishart had set a number of club point scoring records.

  • Most career tries - 68
  • Most career goals - 386
  • Most points in a season - 176 (11 tries, 66 goals) in 1995
  • Most career points - 1,044

St. George Illawara Dragons[edit]

When the Steelers formed the St George Illawarra Dragons in 1999 with St George, Wishart was a part of the new 25-man squad, however he mostly played from the Interchange bench, with former St George wingers Jamie Ainscough and Nathan Blacklock being selected ahead of him. Following the Dragons' 1999 NRL Grand Final loss, in which Wishart played from the bench, he retired from the NRL.

Throughout his career, Wishart's success as a player made him a marketable commodity. Most noticeably he had a long association with the Wollongong car dealership Tory Toyota, culminating in a model being named after him – The Wishy Workhorse, a run-out model Hilux with free extras and a Rod Wishart signature decal on the truck body.

Post playing[edit]

In 2005 he was named one of the 25 greatest ever New South Wales rugby league team players.

Wishart appeared in the 2006 film, Footy Legends.

References[edit]

  1. ^ David Middleton (1989). Rugby League 1988-89. Paddington, New South Wales: Lester-Townsend Publishing. p. 77. ISBN 0-949853-19-4. 
  • Alan Whiticker & Glen Hudson (2007). The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players. Wetherill Park, New South Wales: Gary Allen Pty Ltd. pp. 596–597. ISBN 978-1-877082-93-1. 
  • Big League's 25 Years of Origin Collectors' Edition, News Magazines, Surry Hills, Sydney

External links[edit]