|Gasnier in 2011|
19 July 1981 |
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|Height||193 cm (6 ft 4 in)|
|Weight||100 kg (15 st 10 lb)|
|2000–11||St. George Illawarra Dragons||174||92||26||0||420|
|2004–11||New South Wales||12||4||1||0||18|
Mark Gasnier (born 19 July 1981) is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer of the 2000s and 2010s. A New South Wales State of Origin and national representative centre three-quarter back, he played eleven seasons in the National Rugby League with the St. George Illawarra Dragons, punctuated by two seasons of rugby union played with the French club Stade Français. Gasnier was a member of the Dragons' NRL premiership-winning team in 2010. He retired at the end of the 2011 season. He is the nephew of the renowned St. George 1960s star Reg Gasnier. He is regarded by highly respected Australian rugby league broadcaster, journalist, administrator and former player and coach Phil Gould as being the "best centre three-quarter ever".
While attending Peakhurst High School, Gasnier played for the Australian Schoolboys team in 1998 and 1999. Gasnier played his junior rugby league in the St George District with the Mortdale based Renown United club. He toured New Zealand with the Australian Schoolboys in 1998.
Professional playing career
Gasnier made his 1st Grade début for the Dragons in round 8 of the 2000 season against the Newcastle Knights. He made his first grade début having just played for the Dragons in the preceding Premier League game. He made his International début in a 2001 Test against the PNG Kumuls and scored a try.
In 2004 Gasnier was dropped from the NSW State of Origin team following a complaint that he had made a lewd telephone call to a woman. After a night of heavy drinking he and team-mates Anthony Minichiello (who was also dropped), Craig Wing and Craig Gower were in a taxi when Gasnier rang a number on Minchiello's mobile phone, leaving an obscene message. League comedians Roy and HG have since referred to Gasnier as "Fire Up Bitch!", in reference to the voicemail message, and he has been lampooned by Matthew "Reg Reagan" Johns over the subject. Gasnier was eventually selected to play in Origin III for the Blues, and scored two tries.
After winning Dally M Centre of the Year in 2005, he signed a new one-year contract, with further one year options for the next four years with the St George Illawarra Dragons. Again Gasnier won the Dally M Centre of the Year.
In early 2007 it was announced that Mark Gasnier, Ben Hornby and Jason Ryles would captain St George Illawarra. Controversially, given his reputation as centre, Gasnier was moved to Five-eighth/Stand-off for the Dragons following Trent Barrett's move to the Wigan Warriors. However, Gasnier tore his pectoral muscle tackling Nigel Vagana in the Charity Shield pre-season trial and was unable to play again until July. On 21 July, Gasnier made his long-awaited return to the Dragons, in the five-eighth position, with his team winning 38–20 against the Penrith Panthers. Despite Gasnier's shortened season, he was selected for the Australian Kangaroos in October to play the New Zealand Kiwis in Wellington. Gasnier spent 24 minutes on the field before being knocked out by a Steve Matai high tackle. Suffering from concussion, Gasnier was unable to participate further in the game.
Gasnier was named sole captain of the Dragons for the 2008 season. He paired up with Matt Cooper in the centres. Gasnier was selected to play for Australia on 9 May and scored the first two tries. He was selected for Origin 1 against the Maroons, and helped set up five tries. He was also picked for Origin 2 despite carrying an injury, but was unable to play the 3rd game. In July, 2008 Gasnier reported that he would switch to rugby union at the end of the season to link up with French club Stade Français. Gasnier played his final game for the Dragons against the Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale in the 3rd Qualifying Final, scoring the Dragons' only points.
Rugby union stint
Gasnier joined French rugby union club Stade Français from October 2008 on a two-year deal worth approximately €300,000 a season. Upon joining the Paris club he was coached by former NSW Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie. After finishing the rugby league season with the Dragons, Gasnier flew out to France to start his rugby union career when the Dragons dropped out of the finals. For his début with Stade Français on 26 September 2008, Gasnier played right wing and ran in for a try, finishing off a fine display of passing rugby by the Stade backs, against Bourgoin-Jallieu at the Stade des Alpes in Grenoble before getting injured. On 24 January 2009 he scored the decisive try in a Heineken Cup victory over Ulster. Gasnier also scored a brilliant solo try beating eight defenders in a 30-metre run to the line in Stade Français' 23–18 victory over French rivals SC Albigeois at the Stade Jean Bouin in Paris on 5 November 2009. He is known as "Les Gaz!" by the fans.
Gasnier continued his prolific 2009/10 season by scoring his 6th try of the campaign against Bayonne in round 15 in front of more than 70,000 fans at the Stade de France in Paris. This made him the Top 14's leading try scorer and he continued to impress after switching codes. In April–May 2010 Gasnier was reportedly talking with coach Rod Macqueen about the possibility of Gasnier signing with the Melbourne Rebels for the team's début in the expanded Super 14, February 2011.
Return to rugby league
It was announced in June 2010 that Gasnier was intending to return to rugby league following the expiration of his rugby union contract. This was confirmed when he signed a four-and-a-half year deal with former club St George Illawarra.
Gasnier made his comeback for the Dragons against the Penrith Panthers but the Dragons lost 12–8. His second match however was more of a success, as he scored the match winning try for the Dragons as they sneaked home against the South Sydney Rabbitohs 16–13. He went on to play for the Dragons' in the 2010 NRL Grand Final, scoring the first try of the match to help the joint-venture club beat the Sydney Roosters and claim its first premiership.
His good form lead to him being selected to join the NSW Rugby league team again for the 2011 State of Origin series. He played all three matches, displaying mixed form throughout the series.
On 14 July, he formally announced his retirement from professional rugby league. He finished his career in a semi-final clash at Suncorp Stadium against the Brisbane Broncos, with the Dragons losing 13–12, after a Darren Lockyer field goal in extra time. He then went on to work with Fox Sports.
- Mark Gasnier tells Dragons he's retiring, Kevin Moore tells Bulldogs he's quitting | thetelegraph.com.au. Dailytelegraph.com.au (2011-07-14). Retrieved on 2013-01-06.
- Gaz - The Autobiography | shop.abc.net.au (2013). Retrieved on 2013-03-03.
- "SportingPulse Homepage for Australian Secondary Schools Rugby League". SportingPulse. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
- "No hard feelings over head-hunt". Fox Sports News. 16 October 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
- Wald, Tom. (2008-07-14) I am not pillaging NRL – McKenzie. Foxsports.com.au. Retrieved on 2013-01-06.
- Ulster show plenty of heart in Paris defeat. Irishtimes.com (2009-01-24). Retrieved on 2013-01-06.
- Jancetic, Steve (2009-11-06). "Gasnier shows French a touch of magic". The Age (Melbourne).
- Heavensgame.com. Heavensgame.com. Retrieved on 2013-01-06 . Archived 13 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
- Paxinos, Stathi; Morton, Jim (2010-05-17). "Brumbies' Huxley signs for Rebels". Age (Fairfax). Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- News & Video. Dragons.com.au. Retrieved on 2013-01-06.
- "Mark Gasnier's Career=SMH". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2011-07-20.
- "Mark Gasnier's Rugby League Career=Fox Sports". Fox Sports. 2011-07-21.