50. Brian Carlson

Once described as ''the Keith Miller of rugby league'', Brian Carlson relied on his extraordinary natural talents to cement his place among Australia's greatest players.

Newcastle born and bred, Carlson was not a big trainer and would have scoffed at today's pre-season requirements and arduous weekly routines. He simply loved to play.

He was an Australian Test captain in 1961, the best and fairest player among the four competing nations at the 1957 World Cup and a prolific try scorer on two Kangaroo tours.

Incredibly, Carlson achieved his highest honours after suffering a near fatal injury in a match in Wollongong in 1954.

Playing for the Christian Brothers club (later to become Collegians), he suffered broken ribs and a ruptured kidney and at hospital, where his condition was listed as critical, a priest gave him his last rites.

In little more than 12 months, Carlson was back playing in Newcastle and in 1957, after accepting an offer to captain-coach Blackall in western Queensland, he was chosen to represent Australia at the World Cup.

But the Blackall club refused him clearance to play for his country, so he quit in disgust and became the first ''free agent'' to play for Australia. Carlson could play fullback, winger or centre with equal ability and indeed represented his country in all three positions.

He toured with the Kangaroos in 1952–53 and 1959–60, scored 75 tries in 65 games for Australia and crossed for nine tries in one match on the 1953 tour of New Zealand.

Position: Winger/Centre/Fullback.

Clubs: North Newcastle 1951–53; Wollongong 1954; South Newcastle 1956, 1963–64; Blackall 1957; North Sydney 1957–62.

Games for NSW: 15 (1952–59).

Games for Queensland: Four (1957).

Tests for Australia: 17 (1952–61) — two as captain.

World Cup matches: Six (1957–60).

Representative landmarks: Kangaroo tours 1952–53, 1959–60; Australian tours of New Zealand 1953, 1961; World Cups 1957, 1960.