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December 12: Alfie announces return; First Ashes Test a draw

On this day, inaugural Ashes Test ends in a draw, Ricky Stuart gets Kangaroos coaching gig and Allan Langer outlines comeback plan.


The first Ashes Test is played between Australia and England at London’s Park Royal ground. The match finishes in a 22-22 draw.


Tony Williams was born in Sydney. A Parramatta junior, he made his NRL debut with the Eels in 2008 before heading to Manly for a four-year stint. Williams successfully moved from the wing to the forwards to become a dominant figure in the successful Sea Eagles side under Des Hasler which won the 2011 premiership. 

Williams switched to Canterbury but struggled to recapture his best form at the club and after a short-lived one-game stop at Cronulla which ended with an ACL tear, he returned to Parra in 2018.

He again failed to live up to his reputation and ended up back at Manly the following year, spending the season in the Canterbury Cup with feeder club Blacktown.

"T-Rex" played three Origins for NSW, as well as six Tests for Tonga and another five for Australia.

Tony Williams played 73 games for Manly between 2009-12.
Tony Williams played 73 games for Manly between 2009-12.


Joey Leilua was born in Sydney. After making his debut with the Roosters in 2010, he was on the wing for the team which lost the grand final to St George Illawarra. In 2013, Leilua switched to Newcastle before heading to Canberra two years later. 

A member of the Raiders side which went down to the Roosters in the 2019 decider, he cracked the 200-game barrier that season. 

He joined the Wests Tigers in 2020, linking with his younger brother Luciano, who had switched to the club from St George Illawarra.


Souths sign former Adelaide forward Tony Iro to a one-year deal.


Allan Langer outlines his plans for a comeback with the Brisbane Broncos in 2002. He says he will complete pre-season training with the club before confirming his intention to play.


The manager of Andrew Johns, John Fordham, hits out at Kangaroos coach Wayne Bennett over his endorsement of Darren Lockyer as Test captain in 2005. "These sorts of utterances by the coach about who should be captain would not be allowed in any other sport and they should not be allowed in rugby league," Fordham tells The Sun-Herald.


Test star Craig Wing tells The Sunday Telegraph that all of his treasured jerseys from the Tri-Nations tour have been lost on the way home from the United States.


Roosters coach Ricky Stuart is appointed to the Australian coaching position vacated by Wayne Bennett. Stuart’s appointment forces him to relinquish the NSW job, which is handed to North Queensland’s Graham Murray.


The ARL officially endorses a national under-20s competition to kick off in 2008. The 16 NRL clubs will each field an under-20s team which will play curtain-raisers to NRL matches. 


Parramatta’s Leagues Club board suffers embarrassment when it is revealed that newly appointed board member, former wing great of the 1980s, Eric Grothe, is not eligible for inclusion because he had not been a leagues club member for three years.


The NRL signs a digital media rights deal with Telstra and announce that fans will be able to watch games live on mobile phones and tablets.

Former international forward Luke O'Donnell.
Former international forward Luke O'Donnell. ©NRL Photos


Roosters’ grand final winner Luke O’Donnell announces his retirement after 215 NRL appearances. The former international began his career with Balmain and the Wests Tigers before a lengthy stint with the Cowboys.


The United States qualify for the 2017 World Cup following their 34-24 defeat of Canada in Florida.


Canberra coach Ricky Stuart reveals that key players Josh Papalii, Junior Paulo and Joseph Leilua returned to training alarmingly over-weight after spending six weeks in camp with the Samoan World Cup team.


Five-eighth Luke Keary re-signs with the Sydney Roosters for a further three seasons.


This article contains information from the official records of NRL historian David Middleton.