59. Noel Kelly

By touring with the Kangaroos in 1959–60, 1963–64 and 1967–68, Noel Kelly earned the distinction of being the first front-rower to make rugby league's most distinguished journey three times.

In all, Kelly played 25 Tests in the Australian engine room at a time rugby league was at its roughest and toughest.

Statistics from Kelly's career give a clue to how tough the game was ... and how tough he was.

In his career with Wests in Sydney, ''Ned'' was sent off 17 times, though some were for scrum ''wheeling and dealing'' in days when every scrum was a battle.

In the second Australia–New Zealand Test of 1967, he and the big Kiwi Robin Orchard were sent off in the first 90 seconds, Ned having rendered Orchard horizontal with a left hook.

Events such as that one and plenty more (such as his joyful dive for a try during the record-breaking 50–12 second Test win that claimed the Ashes in 1963) made Kelly one of the most robust and popular players to ever pull on a boot.

Originally from the Queensland country, and a hooker, Kelly became a Test prop alongside another hard man from the bush, Ian Walsh, and remained equally effective in both positions.

At Wests, he was a natural leader, taking over as captain-coach in 1966. After leaving the Magpies, he played and coached briefly in Wollongong, and then stepped back into the spotlight in the 1970s, as coach of Norths for three lively years.

Position: Hooker/Prop.

Clubs: Ipswich Brothers 1958–59; Ayr 1960; Western Suburbs 1961–69; Wollongong 1970.

Games for NSW: Six (1963–67)

Games for Queensland: Eight (1959–60)

Tests for Australia: 25 (1959–68)

World Cup matches: Three (1960)

Representative landmarks: Kangaroo tours 1959–60, 1963–64, 1967–68; World Cup 1960