63. Ken Thornett

Ken Thornett, the middle son in a famous sporting family (elder brother, John, was a Wallaby captain; younger brother, Dick, represented Australia in three sports), was a hero in cities situated a world apart, and a graduate with honours from Australia's fabulous line of champion fullbacks.

Thornett's working life took him to England in 1959, where he went to ply his trade as a woolclasser. He was a NSW rugby union representative by then, but joined the Leeds rugby league club and stayed for four impressive years.

It is said that in the 1961 season, he didn't drop a single ball. When he came home briefly in 1962, Parramatta signed him for seven matches. They won six of them and drew the other.

Thornett returned to Parramatta in 1963 for what was to be a highly successful six-season stay.

He was Australia's premier fullback on the breakthrough 1963–64 Kangaroo tour, when the Ashes were won in England for the first time in more than half a century.

So much was the fullback position his that Graeme Langlands was forced into the centres.

Of Thornett on that tour, Noel Kelly declared: ''There may have been more brilliant fullbacks but there were none safer than Ken or with more courage''.

Thornett retired in 1968, having played 136 first-grade games for Parramatta, but made a brief comeback in 1971, helping the Eels into the semi-finals.

Position: Fullback.

Clubs: Leeds 1960–63, 1965–66; Parramatta 1962–68, 1971.

Games for NSW: Three (1963–67).

Tests for Australia: 12 (1963–64).

Representative landmarks: Kangaroo tour 1963–64.