53. Brian Clay

Brian ''Poppa'' Clay was a wrecking ball at five-eighth, squat and powerful and a killer in defence.

In many ways, Clay was the ''glue'' that held St George together so reliably through the Saints' greatest era — between powerful forwards and a gifted three-quarter line he was both the linkman and an immovable object.

He played in eight of the grand finals in Saints' 11-year run, missing only when broken arms beat him in 1962 and 1963.

Like Johnny Raper, he was a Newtown player who got away, wearing the royal blue jumper between 1953 and 1955 (appearing in two losing grand-final sides), straying to country club Griffith in 1956, and then Saints in 1957.

Hooker Ian Walsh was to declare in later years: ''Wally Lewis wouldn't have held a candle to Brian Clay.''

He was a centre and lock at Newtown, but an injury to Greg Hawick in the opening match of the 1957 World Cup (in which Clay played lock) saw him switched to five-eighth for the rest of the tournament. At St George, he made the five-eighth position his own.

Clay's Australian career was limited to that World Cup and the 1959–60 Kangaroo tour, when he played in all three Ashes Tests and two Tests in France and received rave reviews from English critics. His club career ended in 1967, by which time he had played 183 games for the Saints.

Position: Five-eighth/Lock.

Clubs: Newtown 1953–55; Griffith 1956; St George 1957–67.

Club landmarks: Won premierships with St George 1957–66.

Games for NSW: Nine (1957–62).

Tests for Australia: Five (1959–60).

World Cup matches: Three (1957).

Representative landmarks: Kangaroo tour 1959–60; World Cup 1957.