Peter Jackson (rugby league)
|Born||19 May 1964|
|Died||5 November 1997 (aged 33)|
Sydney, New South Wales
Peter Jackson (19 May 1964 – 5 November 1997) was an Australian professional rugby league footballer of the 1980s and '90s. Nicknamed 'Jacko', he was an Australia national and Queensland State of Origin representative centre or five-eighth. Jackson played club football in the Brisbane Rugby League for the Souths Magpies, before moving to the New South Wales Rugby League and playing for the Canberra Raiders, Brisbane Broncos and North Sydney Bears. He also played in the Rugby Football League for English club Leeds. Jackson worked in the media following his retirement in 1993, and died as the result of a drug overdose in 1997.
In 1980, 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 proved himself as a valuable attacking player at Centre and Five-eighth under the coaching of mentor Wayne Bennett. At Souths, Jackson was also a teammate of heavyweight centre partner Mal Meninga, and fullback Gary Belcher. In 1986, Jackson made his State of Origin début for the Queensland side coached by Bennett, and the following year he followed Bennett to play for the Canberra Raiders in the NSWRL premiership, where he re-linked with Meninga and Belcher, who had moved there at the end of 1985.
Jackson later signed for the English rugby league club Leeds, and played there for the 1987–88 English season, along with fellow Australian imports Peter Tunks, Steve Morris and Marty Gurr. Jackson played left-centre, 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 9 January 1988.
Jackson also played in the centres at Canberra, appearing in the Raiders' 1987 Grand Final loss to Manly-Warringah in the last Grand Final to be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The 1988 season saw Jackson achieve international selection for the first time in Australia's successful home defence of The Ashes against the touring Great Britain side. In the Centenary Test in 1988, the first match 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 this series against the Lions, as well as the one-off Test against Papua New Guinea. At the end of this season, Jackson departed Canberra to sign with the Brisbane Broncos for the next two years, once again under the coaching of Bennett.
Jackson joined the North Sydney Bears in 1991 and his arrival, along with the addition of veteran forward Mario Fenech, and goal-kicking winger Daryl Halligan, saw the club's fortunes turn around as they went from being easybeats (not having won a premiership since 1922) to being title contenders. Playing at five-eighth, Jackson was the focal point of the team's attack during their successful 1991 season where they finished just 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 match 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 international return quickly 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 won again, 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. The 1992 season saw his form continue for both the Bears and for Queensland in the Origin series, and he was selected for the first two Ashes Tests against Great Britain on their 1992 Australasian tour, however Jackson's Test career came to an end when the Kangaroos 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'ya Reckon!.
It would later be revealed that, as a fifteen-year-old, Jackson had been sexually abused by his football coach, Ossie McNamara, a former Catholic Marist Brother who had previously been convicted for indecently dealing with a boy at a Brisbane school. McNamara had also been charged with assault and indecently dealing with a male arising from his time at St Joseph’s College in Queensland in the 1970s. The trauma caused by this abuse led Jackson 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. He was later cremated and his ashes were scattered at both Bondi beach in Sydney and at Lang Park in Brisbane.
Jackson's death went on to be used as a powerful image in 2000 in a radio and television campaign to raise awareness of an anti-child abuse campaign. Since 2003, the Peter Jackson Memorial Trophy has been awarded to the person, be it a player or member of the support staff, who makes the greatest contribution to the Queensland State of Origin team each year.
- Rugby League Project
- Scortis, Con. "Remembering the enigmatic Maroon, Peter 'Jacko' Jackson". theroar.com.au. The Roar. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
- 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.
- Eros Foundation (April 2000). "Politicians are being deceived". Eros Foundation. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
- 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.