Dale Shearer

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Dale Shearer
Personal information
Full name Dale Anthony Shearer
Nickname Rowdy[1]
Born (1965-07-25) 25 July 1965 (age 50)
St George, Queensland, Australia
Playing information
Height 180 cm (5 ft 11 in)
Weight 85 kg (13 st 5 lb)
Position Fullback, Wing, Centre, Five-eighth
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1985–89 Manly-Warringah 86 45 5 1 191
1987–88 Widnes 14 6 11 0 46
1990–91 Brisbane Broncos 27 15 48 0 156
1992–94 Gold Coast Seagulls 33 3 17 2 48
1995–96 South Queensland 10 5 1 0 21
1997 Sydney Roosters 11 2 0 0 8
1998 North Queensland 13 2 2 0 12
Total 194 78 84 3 482
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1985–96 Queensland 26 12 6 0 56
1986–93 Australia 20 12 9 0 66

Dale Shearer (born 25 July 1965 in St George, Queensland) is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer of the 1980s and 90s. A Queensland State of Origin and Australian international representative of Aboriginal heritage, he played club football in Queensland, New South Wales and England. His playing career included a NSWRL Premiership win with Manly-Warringah in 1987 and a Rugby League World Cup final win in 1988. Ten years after his retirement, Shearer was still the all-time top try-scorer in State of Origin and he was named on the wing of the Indigenous Australian team of the century.

Playing career[edit]

Early career[edit]

At the age of 18, Dale Shearer caught the attention of many people during his time at the Queensland club, Sarina Crocodiles in the Winfield State League with some impressive performances. Shearer was a member of Mackay's second successful Foley Shield team in 1984, as well as representing Queensland in the match against New Zealand.[2]


Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles coach and Rugby League Immortal Bob Fulton was quick to sign the 19-year-old before anyone else prior to the 1985 NSWRL season.[citation needed] Shearer made his debut for Manly in Round 1 of the season against Penrith before going on to make his State of Origin debut for Qld in the same year. playing mostly on the wing or in the centres, Shearer played 22 games in his debut season for Manly, crossing for 8 tries. It would prove to be the most number of club games he would play in a season in his 14 year career. He scored his first try for Manly at their home ground Brookvale Oval in their 24-4 win over the reigning premiers Canterbury-Bankstown in Round 3.

He made his test debut on the wing for Australia in 1986 against New Zealand at Carlaw Park in Auckland, scoring a try on debut, though an injury suffered in the game saw him unavailable for the final two tests against NZ at the Sydney Cricket Ground and Lang Park in Brisbane. His good form for Manly, Qld and Australia saw him selected on the 1986 Kangaroo Tour where he played 13 games on tour, including two tests against both Great Britain and two against France, scoring 12 tries. He scored a record four tries in the 2nd test against France in the final match of the tour in a then record 52–0 win.[3]

Although played at either fullback or in the centres for Manly by Fulton, Shearer was picked on the wing for both Qld and Australia in 1987, helping the Maroon's to regain the State of Origin shield from New South Wales, and playing in Australia's shock 6–13 loss to New Zealand at Lang Park. He was Manly's starting fullback in their 16-8 Winfield Cup Grand Final win over the Canberra Raiders in the last ever Grand Final played at the famous Sydney Cricket Ground in 1987. Manly had finished the season as minor premiers with a 20-5-1 record (which included a 12 game winning streak), with Shearer playing 20 games (14 at fullback, 6 in the centres) and scoring a career high 13 tries to be the clubs leading try scorer for the season. Following the grand final victory he travelled with Manly to England for the 1987 World Club Challenge against their champions, Wigan at Central Park. Despite the Sea Eagles confidence going into the match, they were outplayed by the home side who won 8–2 in a tryless game.


In the following off season he also played 14 games in the championship-winning Widnes team in England for the 1987–88 RFL championship.

Return to Manly[edit]

In 1988 Manly failed to defend their 1987 premiership, finishing 4th and beaten 6–19 by Balmain in the knockout Minor Preliminary Final. Shearer had an injury interrupted season, only playing 8 games for Manly and missing selection for Qld and Australia through injury. Midway through the season Shearer was involved in a 100 metre challenge race at Sydney's Wentworth Park against Canberra's evergreen winger John Ferguson and Widnes winger Martin Offiah (Penrith halfback Greg Alexander was to run but withdrew through injury and was replaced by Ferguson). Offiah, then regarded as the fastest player in league with a reported 100 metre time (hand held) of 10.8 seconds, was on tour with the Great Britain Lions for The Ashes series against Australia. Offiah easily won the race from Shearer and Ferguson. At the end of the 1988 season, Shearer played on the wing for Australia, scoring a try in their 25–12 win over New Zealand in the World Cup Final at Auckland's home of rugby union, Eden Park in front of a NZ rugby league record attendance of 47,363 fans. Australia's wingers Shearer and Michael O'Connor were the only Manly players chosen for Australia's World Cup Final team.

With Bob Fulton leaving Manly to take up the position of Australian coach in 1989, Shearer's time at the Manly club went sour when he took them to court that year, requesting to be released from his contract after a bitter dispute.[4] The dispute came midway through the 1989 season after Manly secretary Doug Daley allegedly spoke to the players at a training session and offered an immediate release to any players unhappy at the club (the 1987 premiers, now coached by former Manly international Five-eighth Alan Thompson, finished the season 12th with a 9-12-1 record, missing the finals for the first time since 1984). A few days after Daley's offer and talking it over with family and friends, including Sea Eagles captain and fellow Queenslander Paul Vautin, Shearer decided to ask for a release, only to find the offer had been withdrawn as Daley explained it was only for the time he made it, not later. This resulted in Rowdy taking the Sea Eagles to court over the matter. While he failed to win the court case, as it was apparent he did no longer wanted to be at the club an agreement was made to release him at the end of the season where he would return to Queensland and join the Brisbane Broncos in 1990.

Dale Shearer played 86 games for Manly between 1985 and 1989 (36 at fullback, 34 at centre and 16 on the wing), scoring 45 tries, kicking 5 goals, 1 field goal and was part of the 1987 premiership side, the only first grade premiership he would win during his career.


Shearer was the 1990 Brisbane Broncos season's top point-scorer and at the end of the year, scoring 132 points from 10 tries and kicking 46-83 goals (55.42%), he was selected to go on his second Kangaroo tour. There he forced his way back into the first test side (on the bench) with some impressive performances in early tour games, including scoring a hat-trick against Cumbria. Following Australia's shock 19–12 first test loss to the Lions at Wembley Stadium, Shearer, wanting a souvenir after his first (and only) appearance at the famous venue, infamously kept the game ball instead of handing it to the touch judge. He then displaced fellow Bronco Michael Hancock (who's opposite number Paul Eastwood had scored 2 of his teams 3 tries at Wembley) and was selected for each of the remaining four tests on the tour against Great Britain and France. Shearer marked his return to the team with a try in the Kangaroos 14-10 second test win at Old Trafford.

Not happy playing with Brisbane and after an injury interrupted season where he played only 9 games, at the end of the 1991 NSWRL season he moved to the struggling Gold Coast Seagulls, joining legendary Queensland captain Wally Lewis (a Broncos team mate in 1990) who was in the twilight of his career. Shearer's injury interrupted season saw him selected on the bench for Queensland in games 2 and 3 of the 1991 State of Origin series, scoring a try in both games including the winning try in Game 3 at Lang Park in what was Wally Lewis' 34th and last game for the Maroons

Shearer's test career seemed to be over after a poor match against New Zealand in Melbourne for the first game of the 1991 Trans-Tasman Test series where he dropped the ball when attempting to score in the first half, while two missed tackles on Kiwi winger Richie Blackmore led directly to Kiwi tries in the second half as NZ won the game 24–8 and he was widely tipped never to play test football again. However, he fought his way back into the Queensland Origin side, playing fullback for all 3 games of the 1992 series won 2-1 by NSW. He was then selected on the bench for Game 1 of the 1993 State of Origin series before replacing injured fullback Gary Belcher in games 2 and 3, winning the Man of the Match award in the Maroons 24-12 win in Game 3, though NSW had won the first two games to win the series 2-1.

With this performance, and with his former Manly-Warringah coach Bob Fulton the Australian coach, Shearer beat out well performed Balmain Tigers, NSW and 1992 World Cup Final fullback Tim Brasher for selection in Australia's three test series against New Zealand in 1993. There he proved his critics wrong and was one of the stand out players for the Kangaroos who after a 14-all draw in the first test in Auckland (in which he crossed for his 13th and final test try), would win the final two tests 16-8 at Palmerston North and 16-4 at Lang Park, though the series would prove to be his international swansong. Largely due to there being no regular goal kicker in the Australian squad for the tests (Mal Meninga had given up the kicking duties at Canberra) Shearer, who had converted to the more accurate around the corner style of kicking that year, was the Australian's first choice goal kicker in the series, kicking 2 in each game.

While Shearer generally saw success with the Queensland and Australian teams during this period, the Gold Coast Seagulls were another matter. The Wally Lewis coached team finished with the wooden spoon in both 1992 and 1993, while new coach John Harvey took the club to a 15th place finish (second last) in 1994. His injury interrupted seasons saw Shearer only play 33 games for the Seagulls over 3 seasons, 18 of them in 1993. This also saw his leanest try scoring period, crossing for only 3 tries in club football - one in each season.

The formation of a new Brisbane based club, the South Queensland Crushers, saw Shearer with the new club in 1995 and 1996. Unfortunately, injuries again restricted him in his two seasons with the poorly performed Crushers and saw him play only 10 games for the club. He scored 3 tries in 4 games in 1995 and 1 try from 7 games in 1996. During this time of the Super League war in 1995, Shearer signed a loyalty agreement with the Australian Rugby League rather than the rebel Super League.

Rowdy played his final two games for Queensland in 1995 and 1996, playing Five-eighth in Game 1 of the 1995 series, won 2-0 by the Maroons in the lowest scoring game in Origin history, and again playing Five-eighth in Game 3 of the 1996 series, won 15-14 by NSW.

After two years with the Crushers, Shearer then returned to Sydney for the first time since 1989 when he joined the Phil Gould coached Sydney City Roosters in 1997. Generally playing at either centre or Five-eighth, he played 11 games for the Roosters in another injury interrupted season.

Dale Shearer's final year in the premiership came in the 1998 NRL season playing for the Townsville based North Queensland Cowboys. He played 13 games in his final season, all at fullback. Rowdy scored his final try in what would prove to be his final game, a 14-4 win over his former club Gold Coast (then known as the Gold Coast Chargers) at the Malanda Stadium in Round 17 of the season. Unfortunately Dale Shearer's career came to an end after this game as the Cowboys sacked him for disciplinary reasons.

Dale Shearer retired having scored the most tries for Queensland in Origin history. His record of 12 tries for the Maroons was broken in Game 3 of the 2011 series by Greg Inglis who currently holds the record with 15. Shearer currently sits in joint second place with both Darius Boyd and Billy Slater who crossed for their 12th Origin tries in Game 3 of the 2014 series

Dale Shearer played 177 game in his career - 86 for Manly, 27 for Brisbane, 33 for the Gold Coast, 10 for Sth Qld, 11 for Sydney City and 13 for NQ. He scored 72 tries, kicked 73 goals and 3 field goals for a total of 436 points. He also played 14 games for English club Widnes, scoring 6 tries and kicking 11 goals. He represented Queensland on 26 occasions between 1985 and 1996, 21 of them in the starting side, and scored a then record 12 tries and kicked 6 goals. He played in 20 tests for Australia between 1986 and 1993, scoring 12 tries and kicking 9 goals.


After his retirement Shearer remained in Townsville to do Aboriginal representative work for local organisations in North Queensland. In 2000, he was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his "outstanding achievement in rugby league". In August, 2008, Shearer was named at wing in the Indigenous Team of the Century, joining other legends such as Eric Simms, Steve Renouf, Lionel Morgan, Laurie Daley, Greg Inglis, Jonathan Thurston, Arthur Beetson, Cliff Lyons and John "Chicka" Ferguson in the team.[5]

Shearer was critically injured in a car crash at Peregian Springs on 21 February 2009.[6] The crash came one year after the death from cancer of his wife Delyse.[7]

In 2010 Shearer faced bankruptcy when ordered to repay approximately $1.5m to former State of Origin teammate Adrian Lam for an outstanding loan which dated back to 2005.[8]


  1. ^ "Rowdy's one of the best" dailymercury.com.au
  2. ^ Dale Shearer at the SportingPulse Homepage for Northern Division
  3. ^ "Unbeaten Kangaroos the 'Best Ever'". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Digital). 15 December 1986. p. 39. Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
  4. ^ Dale Shearer at yesterdayshero.com.au
  5. ^ "Modern stars join greats in Indigenous Team of Century". ABC News. 9 August 2008. Retrieved 10 August 2008. 
  6. ^ Ironside, Robyn (22 February 2009). "Former Queensland State of Origin star Dale Shearer in car crash". news.com.au. Retrieved 22 February 2009. 
  7. ^ "Shearer mourns wife". leaguehq.com.au. 14 February 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2009. [dead link]
  8. ^ Elsworthy, Sophie (29 November 2010). "Former NRL star Dale Shearer ordered to pay former Queensland teammate Adrian Lam $1.5 million over unpaid loan". The Daily Telegraph (Australia: Herald and Weekly Times). Retrieved 29 November 2010. 

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