Debut: Vs Salford (H) 5th October 1986
Honours: NRL Grand Final (Finalist: 1997), NRl Minor Premiership (1988)
One of the sports most instantly recognisable and prolific figures, Andrew Ettingshausen initially arrived at Headingley as a young unknown and referred to as ‘E.T’. Such was his impact in his first spell here in 1986/7, when his swashbuckling raids from centre and then full back brought him 17 tries from 20 appearances that he was immediately invited back.
That came two seasons later – after he had made his debut for Australia in a near ‘all Leeds’ backline – and in his third game at Elland Road, he was a winner, this time playing on the wing. By the time he left, his Wembley hopes ended for the second time by Widnes, his record read 30 tries in 41 appearances. But statistics only told part of the story.
In his two cameo stints he captured the hearts of the Leeds fans with his verve on the field and charismatic looks off it, which also saw him carve out a modelling career. At a time of Aussies coming over here on off season stints, he was as much a pin up as a point’s machine.
A beautifully balanced and elegant runner with an imperceptible change of pace, his move to full back in his first spell saw him at his devastating best. His style and bravado fitted in perfectly with the blue and amber entertainment ethos and, added to his personability which saw him go on to have a successful television career hosting a top rated fishing show, he instantly became one of the most popular imports to play for Leeds. Destined to be a great, he made his home town Cronulla debut as a teenager while still at school in 1983 having been a schoolboy international.
He had just established a first team spot at the Sharks by the time he arrived at Headingley to gain greater experience, accompanied by team mate, minder and fellow centre Mark McGaw, a superb defender who also went on to play alongside him at Test level.
Arriving in Leeds in early October ’86, he scored a try on his debut in a 46-10 home win over Salford and a hat trick on Boxing Day against Wakefield. His progress on return home was so rapid that, along with McGaw, he was in the 1987 New South Wales origin side. The following season, before linking up again with Leeds, Cronulla finished Minor Premiers, his length of the field dashes and ability to break out of tackles and elusiveness making him one of the most marketable stars in the game.
While away from Headingley, the signing of Garry Schofield in the centre and form of former Wakefield fireman Gary Spencer in the custodian role meant that Malcolm Reilly, who had coached Great Britain’s 1988 tourists against him, pitched him on the wing on his return. He made his second debut in the narrow Yorkshire Cup semi final win over Hull on the flank, eventually taking over the full back berth again at home to Warrington in November ‘88 and playing out the remainder of his Leeds career there.
Established in the green and gold ranks he came back as a Kangaroo tourist in 1990, and was fullback in the final two Tests against Great Britain in 1992. Injury saw him miss out on a place in Australia’s victorious World Cup squad that year, as it had in ’88. Absent from the early rounds of the 1993 season after contracting malaria on a fishing trip to Papua New Guinea while filming a segment for his television programme, he set a new benchmark for tries in a season for the Sharks the following year with 18, taking him over the century for the club. He twice scored a club record five tries in a match, ironically both at home and on exactly the same date five years apart, and eventually finished his career second on the list of greatest try-scorers in the game with 165 from 328 appearances – the first player to top the 300 mark with one club and sixth highest all time.
In 1994, he was selected for his second Kangaroo tour and played in all four Tests, bagging a hat trick in a 74-0 win over France, becoming the first player since Bob Fulton in the 1970s to finish as top try-scorer on consecutive trips. With the Super League split in 1997 down under, he appeared in his sole Grand Final skippering the side as Cronulla went down to Brisbane and then made his third trip over here as part of the SL Aussies.
A chronic back injury finally brought the curtain down on a glorious career in 2000 when he had a grandstand at Shark Park named after him. His 18 seasons in first grade had established a host of club records with most games, most tries, most State of Origin matches for New South Wales and most Test matches; his club try return at the time placing him second behind Ken Irvine on the list of the most prolific ever.
In 2005 he was named one of the 25 greatest ever NSW players for whom he made 27 appearances, pulling on the national shirt 29 times in total. He was also named in the NRl Hall of Fame in 2008 for his time at Cronulla, notably for his club record 165 times in a 328-game career for the Sharks, including a five-try haul against Illawarra in 1988.