Peter Jackson (rugby league)
19 May 1964|
|Died||5 November 1997
Sydney, New South Wales
|1991–93||North Sydney Bears||31||3||0||2||14|
|Source: Rugby League Project|
Peter Jackson (19 May 1964 – 5 November 1997) was an Australian professional rugby league footballer of the 1980s and '90s. A Queensland State of Origin and Australian international representative back, he played club football in both Queensland and New South Wales as well as a season in England. Jackson worked in the media following his retirement in 1993 and died as the result of a drug overdose in 1997.
In 1980, Peter Jackson played rugby union in the under-17s Australian schoolboys representative side before playing in the under-18s Australian schoolboys rugby league side the following year. He went on to play in the Brisbane Rugby League premiership for Souths Brisbane and prove himself as a dangerous attacking player at centre and five-eighth under the coaching of Wayne Bennett. At Souths, Jackson was team mate to heavyweight centre Mal Meninga and fullback Gary Belcher. In 1986, Jackson made his State of Origin debut for Queensland, and the following year he followed Wayne Bennett to play for the Raiders in the NSWRL premiership, where again he linked with Meninga and Belcher who had moved there at the end of 1985.
Jackson signed for the English rugby league club Leeds. He played there for the 1987–88 English season along with fellow Aussie imports Peter Tunks, "Slippery" Steve Morris and Marty Gurr. Jackson played centre, i.e. number 4, and scored a try in Leeds' 14-15 defeat by St. Helens in the 1987–88 John Player Special Trophy final during the 1987–88 season at Central Park, Wigan on Saturday 9 January 1988.
At Canberra, Jackson played in the centres, appearing in the Raiders' 1987 Grand Final loss to Manly-Warringah in the last Grand Final played at the Sydney Cricket Ground. 1988 saw Jackson achieve international selection in Australia's successful home defence of The Ashes against the touring Great Britain side. In the Centenary Test in 1988, the first of the three test series at the Sydney Football Stadium, Jackson scored two tries, contributing to Australia's 17-6 win. He went on to play in all three tests of the series against the Lions, as well as the one-off test against Papua New Guinea. Unfortunately for Jackson, injury kept him out of the Kangaroos end of season 1988 World Cup winning team which defeated New Zealand.
At the end of 1988, Jackson moved back to Brisbane to play with the Broncos (again linking up with Wayne Bennett) and despite touring with the Australian side to New Zealand in 1989, Jackson's two years with the Brisbane club brought inconsistent results and saw him miss selection for the two tests against New Zealand and one against France in 1990, as well as missing the 1990 Kangaroo tour (Broncos team mates Allan Langer, Michael Hancock, Chris Johns, and the Walters twins Kevin and Kerrod were selected for the tour). At the end of the 1990 NSWRL season, Jackson moved south to Sydney to play for the North Sydney Bears.
At the Bears, Jackson's arrival, and the addition of veteran forward Mario Fenech and goal kicking winger Daryl Halligan, saw the club's fortunes turn around and they went from being easybeats (not having won a premiership since 1922) to being contenders. Playing at five-eighth, Jackson was the focal point of the team's attack during their successful 1991 season where they finished one game shy of qualifying for the club's first Grand Final appearance since 1943, losing the Preliminary final 30-14 to defending premiers Canberra.
After being overlooked for a test return in the first test of the 1991 Trans-Tasman series against New Zealand in favour of former test captain Wally Lewis, Jackson's form for the Bears earned him a recall for the second test in Sydney after Australia's shock 24-8 loss to the Kiwis in Melbourne. His test return turned sour though as he was sent off midway through the first half of the game, which Australia's new look side won 44-0. Despite his send-off, Jackson retained his place for the deciding test at Lang Park in Brisbane where Australia again won easily 40-12.
At the end of the 1991 season, Jackson toured Papua New Guinea on Australia's short, two test tour against the Kumuls in October. 1992 saw his form continue for both the Bears and for Queensland in the 1992 Origin series and he was selected for the first two Ashes tests against Great Britain on their 1992 Australasian tour. Jackson's test career came to an end when the Kangaroo's suffered a 33-10 loss to the Lions in the second test in Melbourne.
Also in 1992, Jackson released a book of "Rugby League Facts, Funnies and Argument Starters" called WHATD'YARECKON!.
Jackson missed most of the 1993 season through illness and retired after Norths' Reserve Grade Grand Final win over the Newcastle Knights to concentrate on his career in the media. Linking with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs as a skills coach, Jackson contemplated a return to the field with the Bulldogs but was secretly battling his own demons.
Following his off-field stint with the Bulldogs, Jackson became a respected rugby league commentator for Fox Sports on Australia's then new Pay TV network Foxtel. He commentated on both Australian Rugby League and Super League games, usually alongside Warren Smith.
It would later be revealed that as a fifteen-year-old, Jackson was abused sexually by his football coach. This secret caused him to suffer from depression and to use drugs and alcohol throughout his life to try to combat it. In November 1997 Jackson shocked the Australian rugby league community when he died, alone in a Sydney hotel room, of a heroin overdose. His death was later used as a powerful image in the year 2000 in a radio and television campaign to raise awareness against child abuse.
Since 2003, the Peter Jackson Memorial Trophy has been awarded to the person, whether a player or member of the support staff, who makes the greatest contribution to the Queensland State of Origin team each year.
- Peter Jackson, Michael Croke, Geoff Armstrong, Scott Rigney (1992). Whatd'ya reckon!: Peter Jackson presents a riotous collection of rugby league facts, funnies & argument starters. Ironbark Press. ISBN 9781875471218.
- The Independent, 16 November 1997
- Thompson, John (17 July 2000). "Campaign urges victims to speak out against child abuse". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
- Peter Jackson at the
- Peter Jackson at stats.rleague.com
- Peter Jackson at yesterdayshero.com.au
- Peter Jackson stats at rugbyleagueproject.com
- Queensland Representatives at qrl.com.au