On this Day – 7th January

ON THIS DAY in 1957 former Leeds player Steve Martin was born in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales.

The former Australian international joined Leeds in the 1983-84 season and was the first Australian to sign for Leeds since Peter Moscatt some 17 years earlier, when he made his debut at home to Hull in 1983.

Signed from Balmain, he had seemingly come from nowhere to gain selection for the Kangaroo tour in 1978, making his Test debut – and sole appearance – in the First Test defeat against France, 13-10, at the Stade Albert Domec. In all, he played 11 matches on the trip, scoring four tries.

Originally an Aussie Rules player in home town Wagga Wagga, he represented Riverina in the Amco Cup in 1976, before coming over for a season with Barrow, scoring one try in 19 appearances for the Shipbuilders.

On his return he signed for Manly and his sensational debut season saw him named as the competition’s ‘Rookie of the Year’ as he starred in the replayed Grand Final win over Cronulla, which ensured his Kangaroos selection, also making the first of two New South Wales appearances. The second came as a reserve for the inaugural State of Origin clash in 1980, and his increasing versatility saw him selected for the tour to New Zealand that year, where he made five appearances, posting one try, but he was not part of the Test team.

Stating his preference for playing at half-back, he signed for the Tigers but was plagued by shoulder injuries which eventually ended his playing days.
At Leeds for an off-season, he made 25 appearances and crossed four times, including in the Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to Widnes, but missed out on the John Player win.

In all he made 123 appearances in the ARL, scoring 31 tries, and kicking drop-goals, then becoming captain-coach with West Tamworth who he took to two Premierships. Moving to North Sydney, he took over the reserve grade initially and then led the Bears to the 1991 Preliminary Final.

After returning here to steer Featherstone, he was then tempted home to South Sydney in 1998, but a fractious relationship with players and management saw him relieved of his duties before the end of the season.