|Full name||Stephen Renouf|
|Nickname||The Pearl, The Prince of Centres, Bucko|
8 June 1970 |
|Height||180 cm (5 ft 11 in)|
|Source: RLP, SL Stats and Yesterday's Hero|
Stephen Renouf (born 8 June 1970 in Murgon, Queensland) is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer of the 1980s, 90s and 2000s. Of Aboriginal and European descent, he was known as one of the sport's greatest centres. Renouf set numerous records for the Brisbane Broncos club and is considered one of the greatest footballers to have played for them. After spending eleven years with Brisbane, which yielded four premierships, he left Australia to play for English club Wigan Warriors, where he spent two seasons before retiring. He has since been named in Australia's Indigenous team of the century (1908–2007).
Having developed his game with the Broncos since his teen years, Renouf made his debut in the first grade side in 1989. He scored his first try for the club in 1990, and the following year went on to set a new club record of four tries in a home fixture and be the Broncos' top try scorer of the 1991 Brisbane Broncos season and 1992 (along with Allan Langer) seasons. In 1992 the Broncos claimed their first premiership, winning the Winfield Cup Grand Final against St. George 28-8, which was highlighted by a 98 metre try to Renouf in the second half. After Willie Carne had somehow managed to avoid being trapped in his in-goal, Broncos captain Allan Langer passed to Renouf who stepped inside Rex Terp and took off downfield with no one in front of him. Dragons winger Ricky Walford gave chase and made ground on him, but failed to stop Renouf from scoring.
In the weeks following the Broncos Grand Final win, Renouf travelled with the Kangaroos to England for the 1992 World Cup Final at the famous Wembley Stadium. Renouf made his debut for Australia in front of an international rugby league record attendance of 73,631 fans, scoring the only try of the match after running off a pass from Broncos team mate Kevin Walters in the second half. Australia defeated Great Britain 10–6 to win their sixth Rugby League World Cup. A week later, Renouf played for Brisbane in the 1992 World Club Challenge against 1991-92 British champions Wigan at Central Park in Wigan. The Broncos capped their best year by defeating Wigan 22-8 and becoming the first Australian team to win the World Club Challenge in England.
The Broncos reached the 1993 Grand Final, again against the St. George Dragons and again won it, claiming a second consecutive premiership. They did it the hard way in 1993, finishing the regular season in 5th place. From their they defeated Manly-Warringah 36-10 in the Minor Preliminary Final, Canberra 30-12 in the Minor Semi-final, and Canterbury-Bankstown 23-16 in the Preliminary final (Renouf missed both games due to a broken jaw suffered in an off-field incident before the finals). Renouf made his comeback in a hard fought Grand Final 14-6 over the Dragons in front of 42,329 at the Sydney Football Stadium.
On 23 April 1994 Renouf broke the club record for scoring the most tries in an away fixture by scoring four tries in the game against the Balmain Tigers at the Optus Oval in Melbourne. During the 1994 NSWRL season, Renouf played at centre for defending premiers Brisbane when they hosted British champions Wigan for the 1994 World Club Challenge. In front of a WCC record attendance of 54,220 at Brisbane's ANZ Stadium, Wigan reversed the 1992 result with a shock 20-14 win. Also in 1994, Renouf scored the most tries in a season in the Broncos' history, leading the year's NSWRL premiership's try-scorers list, with 23 tries, though the Broncos premiership run came to an end with a tough 15-14 loss to the North Sydney Bears in the Semi-finals thanks to a field goal by Bears halfback Jason Taylor.
At the end of the 1994 NSWRL season, he was selected to go on the 1994 Kangaroo tour and starred for the Kangaroos in their Ashes series win over Great Britain. Renouf, who scored his second Wembley try in the 8-4 loss to Great Britain in the first test, and another in the 38-8 second test win at Old Trafford in Manchester, just missed out on joining Ken Irvine (1963), Sam Backo (1988) and his 1994 Kangaroos centre partner (and team captain) Mal Meninga (1990) in scoring a try in every test of an Ashes series when he dropped a pass only 5 metres out from scoring in the deciding test (won 23-4 by Australia) at Elland Road in Leeds. Renouf finished with 12 tries on tour from 9 games, second only to the Kangaroo tours leading try scorer Andrew Ettingshausen who scored 15 tries in 11 games.
Dubbed a 'try-scoring machine', in total Renouf scored four tries on five occasions:
- vs North Sydney Bears, 9 August 1991
- vs Canterbury Bulldogs, 25 July 1993
- vs Balmain Tigers, 23 April 1994
- vs Auckland Warriors, 27 August 1995
- vs Penrith Panthers, 28 March 1997
In 1997, Renouf scored 14 tries, which included a hat-trick against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in the 1997 Super League grand final on 20 September at ANZ Stadium in Brisbane's 26–8 victory. He was therefore named man-of-the-match. No other player would score 3 tries in a Grand Final until Manly winger Michael Robertson did so in 2008.
He played centre at for the Brisbane Broncos in their win at the 1998 NRL grand final. Over a decade after leaving the Broncos he was still the club's all-time leading try scorer, having amassed a total of 142 tries.
In 2000, Renouf was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his contribution to Australia's international standing in rugby league. Renouf played for the Wigan Warriors at centre their 2000 Super League Grand Final loss against St Helens RLFC. His final game for the Wigan Warriors and indeed his last game at the highest level was the 2001 Super League Grand Final on 13 October at Old Trafford in Manchester. His side lost to the Bradford Bulls by 37–6.
Upon his time at Wigan Warriors, Renouf quoted "The two years at Wigan were absolutely brilliant. I would have liked to stay but they didn’t want to retain me"
Back in Australia
Following his return to Australia he continued playing football for Easts in the Queensland Cup alongside former Broncos teammate Darren Smith. In 2006 Renouf became the 7th former player inducted into the Broncos official Hall of Fame. During the 2007 season at the Broncos' 20-year anniversary celebration, the club announced a list of the 20 best players to play for them to date which included Renouf.
In August, 2008, Renouf was named at centre in the Indigenous Team of the Century.
Life off the field
At the age of 23, six years after signing with the Brisbane Broncos, Renouf was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Renouf remembers that he "had been losing weight quite rapidly, [and] was always going to the toilet and though it was the start of pre-season, [he] had no energy, [he] couldn’t lift anything in the gym". He decided to go to the doctor and found out that he had the disease. According to Renouf "diabetes is not all doom and gloom, you can live with it." His advice to young people who have diabetes is "Never think that it can stop you from achieving your goals. Just look after it, and you can achieve anything. I looked after it...I knew I had to if I wanted to keep playing football."
Outside of rugby league, Renouf has an apprenticeship as an electrician and has also worked in the industry of sales and marketing. He is married and has five children - four sons and one daughter. He is currently working for the Get Active Queensland Schools Program which promotes physical activity amongst children.
In February 2006, a biography of Renouf was released. Entitled The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story, the book details his career as a rugby league player, but it also covers his early life, including his family heritage and his childhood in the Queensland town of Murgon. It also discusses how, as an Aborigine, he had to overcome prejudices from people around him.
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