In a stunning revelation, the man who scored the winning try for the Kangaroos in their 10-6 win over Great Britain in the 1992 World Cup final admits he didn’t want the ball in the leadup.
But Steve Renouf, who scored late in the game off a Kevin Walters pass, insists the pet Broncos play that turned the game 25 years ago has lessons for the World Cup final showdown between Australia and England in Brisbane on Saturday night.
The Kangaroos were trailing 6-4 at Wembley against a Great Britain side that contained the likes of Garry Schofield, Ellery Hanley and Kevin Ward.
No try had been scored in the game and the Great Britain defence was on song when Walters flicked the switch.
“Kevvie had come off the bench and kept saying ‘Pearl, I’ll do the out ball, I’ll do the out ball’ and I said ‘not yet, not yet’,” Renouf recalled.
“I don’t know what I was waiting for but when you look at the play he runs across the back of the ruck out to my side and gives me no option.
“I thought ‘here we go’. I knew I had to get my arse there and then the next minute I was scoring a try. Then I thought ‘yes, what a great move by us’, but moments earlier I didn’t want anything to do with it. I wasn’t interested.”
Renouf said that if the 2017 World Cup Final was close it may well be a pet move by Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater that turned it.
“It was a Broncos play back in 1992 that won the World Cup, and we have seen the Big Three do it before in big games with that little move around the middle,” Renouf said.
“They know each other’s games so well and it could come down to the same sort of thing as with Kevin and I.
“It only takes a little signal, probably from Cam Smith, and they know it’s on. The opposition knows it will happen, but they don’t know when.”
Looking back, Walters explained how club combinations and the individual brilliance of a Renouf-style player can break a big game wide open.
“If you look at tight games it is often that little partnership that makes something happen,” Walters said.
“If we were going to score I thought Steve would be the one to do it, but you had to keep him in the game otherwise he’d just drift out of it.
“We had the ‘out ball’ play that we used to do all the time. It was our go-to play at Broncos and Queensland level so because it worked at those levels I thought ‘we’ll give it a crack here’.
“As usual, I’d told him the play before to get ready and he’d always say ‘no…no’. So I said ‘you’re getting it, so get ready or you’ll look like an idiot or get smashed’. I trusted him to be coming and the rest is history.
“It was a great try from Pearl. When the big moments were on and when the time came to get something done, he’d do it.”
Renouf said another lesson from 1992 was the impact a player off the bench could make in a short space of time.
“Kevvie was jumping around like a rabbit and he changed that whole game, not just with that try but with his energy when he came on,” he said.
“We were in a bit of a slump and he was the livewire that sparked us.”