29 April 1947 |
New South Wales, Australia
Source: Yesterday's Hero
Johnny Mayes (born 29 April 1947) is an Australian former rugby league halfback who represented Australia in the 1975 World Series. He also played in three consecutive premiership-winning teams from 1973 to 1975, the first for Manly and the latter two for Eastern Suburbs. His feat of playing in three consecutive premiership sides for different clubs is comparable only with Glenn Lazarus in the early 1990s for Canberra and the Brisbane Broncos, who played in four premiership sides between 1989 and 1993.
Mayes had a slow start to his career with Eastern Suburbs owing to competition from established half Kevin Junee. He first played first grade in 1968, but was still mostly in reserve grade for several years. When Junee was injured in the years after winning the Rothmans Medal in 1970, Mayes spent a considerable amount of time in first grade and for part of 1972 actually relegated Junee to the reserves - though by finals time Junee had displaced him again.
Being a similar type of halfback to Junee, Mayes naturally sought another club to be sure of a first grade berth and Manly, with Dennis Ward dropping out, picked him up for the 1973 season. Mayes' growth as a player that year was remarkable. He scored sixteen tries - four in one match against Penrith - and won Rugby League Week's Player of the Year award. He was freely tipped to go on the Kangaroo tour but was not chosen, and was, remarkably, swapped for Junee so he could return to Easts the following year.
This rather unusual swap was surprisingly beneficial, for with Manly Junee was the 1974 season's leading try-scorer, whilst Mayes' courageous defence and frequent darting runs helped Easts develop a powerful attack and solid defence that ensured the team dropped only seven games under Jack Gibson in 1974 and 1975. In the 1975 grand final Mayes scored a brilliant try after an arcing run cross-field by winger Bruce Pickett and another one after running through a gaping hole, whilst he scored four tries for the second time against Canterbury. At season end he was selected to represent Australia in that year's Rugby League World Series.
However, with Junee's return to Easts and especially the unexpected emergence of the unknown Kevin Hastings, Mayes spent much of 1976 in reserve grade again. During the 1976 NSWRFL season, Hedger played in Eastern Suburbs' victory in their unofficial 1976 World Club Challenge match against British champions St. Helens in Sydney. With Junee gone for good, he fought with Hastings for a first grade spot in 1977 before returning to Newcastle where he captained the Newcastle representative team to a win over New Zealand in 1978.
In all Mayes played 134 first grade games for 71 tries and three field goals (two two-point and one one-point). In 1975 he was the leading try-scorer with sixteen.
- Whiticker, Alan and Hudson, Glen; The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players. ISBN 1-875169-76-8