28 May 1962 |
|Height||183 cm (6 ft 0 in)|
|Weight||88 kg (13 st 12 lb)|
|Source: Rugby League Project and Yesterday's Hero|
Gary Belcher (born 28 May 1962 in Queensland) is an Australian rugby league football commentator and former player of the 1980s and '90s. An Australian international and Queensland State of Origin representative, he played club football in the Brisbane Rugby League premiership for the Souths Magpies (winning the 1985 Grand Final) and in the NSWRL Premiership for the Canberra Raiders (winning the 1989 and 1990 Grand Finals). Belcher's position of choice was Fullback.
Gary Belcher was graded by the Souths Magpies in 1983, and in 1985 played for the Wayne Bennett coached Magpies in the 10-8 BRL Grand Final win over Wynnum Manly at Lang Park, alongside the Centre pairing of Mal Meninga and Peter Jackson. In 1986 he and Meninga signed with the Canberra Raiders, making his debut in Round 1 of the season against Manly-Warringah at Brookvale Oval. He also made his State of Origin debut for Queensland in 1986, the first year the Maroons lost the series 3-0. Belcher had replaced long-serving Qld fullback Colin Scott.
He won the Raiders 1986 player of the year award and was also selected for the season ending 1986 Kangaroo tour. However, as the understudy to incumbent fullback Garry Jack, he played no test matches on the tour, though he did play in ten matches on the tour scoring 6 tries. Early in the tour Belcher often joined the Channel 10 commentary team for games in which he didn't play. He handled himself quite well behind the microphone in a pointer to his post-playing career.
In 1987 Belcher again won the Raiders' player of the year award and played in the Grand Final against Manly-Warringah. Belcher kicked a goal to convert a late Chris O'Sullivan try, but the Raiders were defeated 18-8 in front of 50,201 in what was the last Grand Final played at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
In the 1988 State of Origin series, Belcher played in the Qld side that demolished New South Wales 3-0 in what was the first time two of the three series games were played in Sydney, this time at the new Sydney Football Stadium. In the 1988 Winfield Cup he was the League's top point scorer and also broke the Raiders' club record for the most points, scoring 218 (this record stood for almost thirteen years before being broken by Clinton Schifcofske in 2001). Also in 1988, after impressing for his club as well as in Queensland's clean-sweep Origin series, Belcher was called up to the Australian squad again to play in the Centenary Test match against Great Britain, playing in all three Ashes tests from the bench with Garry Jack still the Australian fullback. He also played 11 matches for English side Castleford in the 1988-89 English season. Gary Belcher played Fullback in Castleford's 12-33 defeat by Leeds in the 1988 Yorkshire Cup final during the 1988–89 season at Headingley Stadium, Leeds on Sunday 16 October 1988.
Back in Australia in 1989, Belcher was part of the 19-14 Grand Final victory over Balmain in which he helped in his side's fightback by scoring a try. The Grand Final was famous for replacement forward Steve Jackson's try in the dying stages of extra time which gave the Raiders their first Premiership. The Raiders win also saw them become the first team to win the premiership from outside of the Sydney metropolitan area. Some judges had Belcher as their man of the match in the decider, but playing equally well was eventual Clive Churchill Medal winner Bradley Clyde. 1989 was also the year that Belcher broke the record for the most tries in a season for a fullback, scoring 17 tries in total, topping the League's try-scorers list. Following the Grand Final win, Belcher traveled with the Raiders to England for the 1989 World Club Challenge which was lost to a David Hulme inspired Widnes 30-18 at the famous Old Trafford stadium in Manchester.
During 1989 he again played in Qld's 3-0 sweep of NSW in the 1989 State of Origin series, and his good form saw him finally displace Jack as the Australian fullback for the mid-season tour to New Zealand. Badge played the custodian role in all three tests against New Zealand as Australia won the series 3-0.
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More success followed Belcher in 1990. He played in the two mid-season test matches against France in Parkes and New Zealand in Wellington. Later in thyear he was again part of the victorious Canberra team that defeated Penrith 18-14 in the Grand Final to give the Raiders their second straight premiership (the game was also Penrith's first ever Grand Final after joining the competition in 1967). As the incumbent test fullback, Belcher's selection for the 1990 Kangaroo tour was a certainty and he played all five test matches against Great Britain and France, despite the challenge from former test Halfback Greg Alexander who toured as the backup fullback.
While on the Kangaroo Tour, Belcher kept a diary (using a tape recorder) telling the story of the day to day happenings of the 17th Kangaroos. This diary would later be produced into a book called Kangaroo Confidential which was released in 1991.
Despite a knee injury which ruled him out of the 1991 State of Origin series and kept him out of the Trans-Tasman Tests against New Zealand, Belcher returned to form late in the 1991 season and was involved in Canberra's late season charge to their third successive Grand Final. It was a case of third time unlucky for Belcher and the Raiders as they went down 19-14 to Penrith. He regained the test fullback position on the end of season tour of Papua New Guinea, where he played in all five matches, including both tests against the Papua New Guinea Kumuls, and top scored on tour with 32 points. The tests again PNG were the final tests of Belcher's career.
In what proved to be one of the low points of Belcher's career, his injured knee required a complete reconstruction which ruled him out for the 1992 NSWRL season. In 1993, Belcher was re-selected for the Queensland State of Origin side, although he was dropped after the 14-10 defeat in the first match of the series.
After his contract with the Raiders had expired, Canberra failed to offer him a new contract. As a result, he announced his retirement from the game on a Canberra television news program. During his career at the Raiders, Belcher won two New South Wales Rugby League premierships as well as being twice runner-up of the competition. He also scored 69 tries and scored 148 goals in his 148 games for the Raiders, a total of 572 points.
Belcher spent time on the Brisbane Broncos coaching staff until a major cleanout by head coach Wayne Bennett at the end of 2005 saw him removed. He has been a commentator for Fox Sports coverage of NRL matches since sometime before 2007. He is also a Director of a promotional products company - Amcorp.
- McCoy, John (December 2010). "Brisbane Rugby League Entertainers". Men of League Magazine, Edition 42. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
- "ACT Sport Hall of Fame Inductees". ctsport.com.au. ACT Sport. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
- Belcher, Gary (1991). Kangaroo Confidential: The inside story of a sensational tour (First ed.). NSW: Ironbark Press. ISBN 1 875471 04 9.
- Dick, Barry (2006-10-01). "Special day for Benny". The Courier-Mail. Queensland Newspapers. Retrieved 2009-12-17.