4. Sid 'Sandy' Pearce

A player of immense strength and character, Sandy Pearce was Australia's first great hooker. He emerged from the same ''village'' as the great Dally Messenger at Double Bay on Sydney Harbour.

Born in the same year, Pearce and Messenger were close mates, participating in scratch games of football on the local Double Bay Oval.

Messenger claimed years later that it was only his encouragement that enticed the easy-going Pearce to take up rugby, convincing him to join the junior club Warrigals in 1901.

From there the two played second-grade rugby at Eastern Suburbs in 1905 and both made the switch to the professional ranks in August 1907.

While Messenger dominated the spotlight, the clean-living, taciturn Pearce preferred to work away in the background.

But it was impossible to ignore his efforts in the middle of the Easts scrum, where he became renowned for his feats of strength.

Australian team-mate Frank Burge rated Pearce the ''greatest personality'' the game had ever had. ''Football has never had a gamer, rougher, tougher nor more loyal team player,'' wrote Burge. ''Old Sandy, hooker, was easily the best I have ever seen in the position.''

Pearce toured with the First Kangaroos, declined a second trip to England for business reasons in 1911–12 (as did Messenger), but then toured again 10 years later.

His career essentially ended when he broke his leg in a tour match at Crown Flatt, Dewsbury, in 1921. His final Test appearance that year at the age of 38 and 158 days established an age record that is likely to stand forever.

Position: Hooker.

Club: Eastern Suburbs 1908–21.

Club landmarks: Won premierships with Easts 1911–13.

Games for NSW: 30 (1907–21)

Tests for Australia: 14 (1908–21).

Representative landmarks: Kangaroo tours 1908–09, 1921–22.