Steve Roach (rugby league)

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Steve Roach
Personal information
Full name Stephen David Roach
Nickname Blocker
Born (1962-04-24) 24 April 1962 (age 52)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Playing information
Height 188 cm (6 ft 2 in)
Weight 105 kg (16 st 7 lb)
Position Prop
Club
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1982–92 Balmain Tigers 186 12 0 0 48
1988 Warrington 20 1 0 0 4
Total 206 13 0 0 52
Representative
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1984–91 New South Wales 17 0 0 0 0
1985–91 Australia 19 3 0 0 12
Source: RLP Yesterday's Hero

Stephen David Roach - (born 24 April 1962 in Sydney, New South Wales) nicknamed Blocker or Blocker Roach is an Australian former rugby league prop forward of the 1980s and early 1990s. He made thirty-nine representative appearances for the Australian national team in Tests, World Cup and New South Wales State of Origin matches between 1985 and 1991. His football career was followed by a period as a commentator.

Club career[edit]

Though born in Sydney, Roach played his early rugby league for Wests Illawarra and was signed by the Balmain Tigers in 1982. He quickly advanced to first grade and in 1983 was part of the Balmain side which made the semi-finals for the first time since 1977. Between then and 1992 Roach played 185 first grade games for the Tigers.

1987 was almost completely wiped out for Roach due to a serious knee injury and though he returned to excellent form in 1988 he was cited for a tackle on Penrith's Chris Mortimer suspended for four weeks, missing the 1988 finals including the Grand Final loss to Canterbury.

In the 1989 club season his combination with Paul Sironen, Benny Elias and Wayne Pearce was one of the strongest packs in club rugby league history and the side dominated opposing forwards. In the 1989 Grand Final, after having led Canberra 12 points to 2 at half-time, the Tigers were run down. Roach and Sironen were replaced by coach Warren Ryan late in the 2nd half and when the game ultimately went into extra time they were unable to return and with their strikepower gone in the added period Canberra were able to overpower Balmain 19-14.

In 1991 his club form showed some decline but he again managed national selection and his experience was vital to the improvement of a side needing reorganisation after they suffered a shocking start to the club season. After an ankle injury in 1991 he was also troubled by a knee injury in 1992 which would prove to be his last club season.

Representative career[edit]

State representative honours first came his way in 1984 when he was called into the New South Wales Blues side for all three games of that year's State of Origin series. Thereafter barring injury and his surprise omission in 1989, he was generally a regular Blues starter and he made 17 State of Origin appearances up till game II of 1991.

When Jack Gibson was New South Wales coach he threatened the NSWRL with resignation from the position if Roach was selected in the side.[1]

In 1985, Roach became the 562nd player to represent Australia[2] when he made his national representative debut in the first Test in Brisbane against New Zealand. His excellent club form for Balmain in 1986 ensured his place on the Kangaroo tour where he appeared in two Tests and seven minor tour matches.

Citations and despatches to the sin-bin in the 1989 club season may have contributed to his omission by State selectors from the Blues squad of that year however powerful club performances with his fellow representative Balmain forwards made him a certainty for the 1989 New Zealand tour where he played in all three Tests.

On the 1990 Kangaroo tour Roach played in all five Tests against Great Britain and France and in five other minor tour games.

In a Test match against New Zealand in Melbourne in 1991, Roach clashed famously with Kiwi forward Dean Lonergan and required 20 stitches.[3] He later lost his Test place and despite gaining a late call-up for the Papua New Guinea tour he broke his ankle in the first match which was to be his last national appearance.

The man and his playing style[edit]

His tremendously solid and stocky build made him a bull-like runner up the middle. He possessed a pair of hands as large as anyone's in the game and had excellent offloading skills that frequently gave team-mates tries or long breaks.

Known for his aggressive approach and powerful running close to the rucks, Roach was arguably the number one prop in world rugby league at his peak. However he was also notorious for his controversial behaviour on-field, which may have made state and national selectors wary of him at times.

In a game in 1990 against Manly at Brookvale Oval he received a four-week suspension for backchatting the referee Eddie Ward, whom Roach then patted on the head after he was ordered from the field. Coming into physical contact with a referee is regarded as a serious offence and Roach was fortunate that no further action was taken. Roach did himself no favours in this incident when he gave the touch judge a verbal bashing on his way off the field.

Post playing[edit]

By the end of the 1992 season Roach had written an autobiography, Doing My Block and he became a commentator with the Nine Network as well as making appearances on the The NRL Footy Show. After a disagreement with fellow Channel 9 commentators Paul Vautin and Peter Sterling he was sacked by the network and signed by the official rugby league radio broadcaster 2UE, before later moving to 2GB with Ray Hadley and his Continuous Call Team.

He has made further television appearances on the Seven Network's Sportsworld and is one of a number of former players who appear in radio, TV and print ads for the Lowes menswear chain. He now still works for the Seven Network's Matty Johns Show with occasional appearances.

After a 3 year stint as assistant coach with Manly, Roach was appointed to the coaching committee of his beloved Tigers - now the Wests Tigers.

On 23 June 2000, Roach was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his contribution to Australia's international standing in rugby league.[4]

In February 2008, Steve Roach was named in the list of Australia's 100 Greatest Players (1908–2007) which was commissioned by the NRL and ARL to celebrate the code's centenary year in Australia.[5][6]

In 2011 Roach joined Network Ten's new Thursday night Rugby League show The Game Plan

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bill Harrigan with Daniel Lane (2003). Harrigan: the referee in a league of his own. Australia: Hachette. 
  2. ^ "All time Australian Kangaroos player list". Australian Rugby League. Archived from the original on 2007-05-19. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  3. ^ Deane, Steve (2009-10-23). "Top 10 moments in Kiwi league". nzherald.co.nz (New Zealand: APN Holdings NZ Limited). Retrieved 2010-02-05. 
  4. ^ "Steve Roach". Australian Honours Database. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  5. ^ Peter Cassidy (2008-02-23). "Controversy reigns as NRL releases top 100 players". Macquarie National News. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 
  6. ^ "Centenary of Rugby League - The Players". NRL & ARL. 2008-02-23. Retrieved 2008-02-23. 

Sources[edit]

  • Whiticker, Alan and Hudson, Glen; The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players (3rd ed); published 1998, Gary Allen Pty. Ltd.
  • Roach, Steve with Ray Chesterton; Doing My Block; published 1992, Ironbark Press.
  • Andrews, Malcolm (2006) The ABC of Rugby League Austn Broadcasting Corpn, Sydney

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]