Remembering John Sattler and the Dominant Cardinal and Myrtle Rugby League Team of the 1960-70s

The passing of South’s legend John Sattler this year gave me pause to remember not only one of the Rabbitohs’ greatest players, but also the pack of forwards he led in their remarkable run of success between 1967 and 1971, when they won four premierships from five grand-final appearances. They won in 1967, 1968, 1970 and 1971, and only their controversial 11-2 defeat by Balmain in 1969 stopped them from winning five titles in a row for the second time in the club’s history. I was too young to witness the great St George packs during their record 11-year premiership run. Sattler’s wrecking crew lives on as the most dominant pack of forwards I have ever seen. Souths used a core group of 10 forwards during Sattler’s five-year grand final run, a feat remarkable in itself, and what a line-up they could boast. John Sattler – The man himself. Sattler played nearly 200 games for South Sydney after joining them from Kurri Kurri in 1963, and he captained them in five grand finals. He famously achieved Rabbitoh immortal status for his courage in playing through the 1970 decider with a broken jaw, and a legend was born. Ron Coote – But for the existence of rugby league immortal Johnny Raper, Ron Coote would be hailed as the greatest lock forward of all time. Some argue he was even better than Raper. He was a South Sydney junior and played nearly 150 games for the club and was a big part of their grand-final run and success. Bob McCarthy – McCarthy was a big, mobile forward with a great turn of speed who perfected the wide running forward game. He was almost unstoppable on his day, running in 119 first-grade tries in his career, with none better than his length-of-the-field intercept try to win the 1967 grand final for the Rabbitohs. Paul Sait – Sait was a very versatile player, as evidenced by the fact that he played centre, lock and second row in his 16 test match appearances for Australia. He just had to be selected somewhere. John O’Neill – Every good leader needs a brutal henchman, and there was none better suited for this task than O’Neill, who had a deserved reputation as one of the most feared and ruthless forwards in the game. Jim Morgan – Although he played in only one grand final (1968) during Souths’ five-year run, Morgan was nevertheless an important part of their side, and also one of their toughest competitors. Elwyn Walters – Back in the day when hookers actually worked for a living, there was none better than Walters, who not only dominated opponents in the scrums but was also a clever forward with the ball in his hands and an uncompromising defender. Bob Moses – Moses was another Souths player who was equally adept at playing centre, lock and second row, and along with Sait, gave the Rabbitohs great depth and versatility. Gary Stevens – In an era of tough competitors, there were none tougher than Stevens, a punishing defender who rarely missed his man. George Piggins – They do not come any more cardinal and myrtle than Piggins, who was pound for pound one of the toughest forwards ever to play the game. What a line-up. I doubt if we will see the likes of a forward pack resembling John Sattler’s ‘wrecking crew’ again.