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February 26: Joey the comeback king; Whereat the whippet

On this day, tries go from three to four points, Shane Whereat crowned fastest player and Andrew Johns makes successful comeback.


Craig Smith was born. The goal-kicking Storm winger wrote his name into rugby league folklore in the 1999 grand final when he collected a Brett Kimmorley bomb in the dying seconds and was set to score until he was knocked out by a high tackle from Dragon Jamie Ainscough. A penalty try was awarded but Smith, a specialist goalkicker, was unable to take the match-winning conversion, so Matt Geyer stepped up and knocked it over to seal the famous 20-18 triumph.

Smith was not signed the following year and never played at NRL level again.


Ashton Sims was born in Sydney. A towering prop, the Gerringong junior made his NRL debut for St George Illawarra in 2003 as a teenager and played five seasons at the club before three at Brisbane and another four at the Cowboys, finishing with 228 games in his career. Sims switched to the Super League in 2015 and played five more seasons with Warrington and the Toronto Wolfpack before retiring. He also represented Fiji on 15 occasions.


Michael Chee Kam was born in Auckland. A versatile back-rower who can fill in as a centre, he played five games for Manly in 2014-15 before establishing himself at the Wests Tigers and graduating to Test level with Samoa. Chee Kam scored one of the best tries of the 2019 season with a solo effort in the final minute against Brisbane sealing a dramatic win for the Tigers.

Chee-Kam wins it for the Wests Tigers


Value of try increased to four points for the start of the 1983 premiership.


ARL boss Ken Arthurson sparks an uproar over the Test captaincy when he says Ricky Stuart has taken over from Laurie Daley as a front-line contender to replace Mal Meninga as Australian skipper. Daley says he is prepared to quit the Raiders to captain another club. 


Sydney City Roosters winger Shane Whereat regains his title as the fastest man in the game with victory in the annual Rugby League sprint race.

Former Roosters flyer Shane Whereat.
Former Roosters flyer Shane Whereat.


The ARL asks the Federal Court to impose a worldwide ban on the operation and promotion of News Ltd’s Super League until the turn of the century. 


The ARL refuses an offer from John Cross and Jack Elsegood to repay the $150,000 they each received for signing loyalty payments.  


A NSWRL committee turns down Ben Ikin’s appeal to be released from his North Sydney contract.


Sharks front-rower Chris Beattie is charged with contrary conduct over an alleged biting incident involving Parramatta five-eighth Daniel Wagon. 

Shark Chris Beattie and Eel Daniel Wagon (6) square off.
Shark Chris Beattie and Eel Daniel Wagon (6) square off.


Newcastle captain Andrew Johns makes a successful comeback from knee reconstruction surgery in the Knights’ trial match against Cronulla in Gosford. 


Sydney Roosters winger Joel Monaghan is ruled out for the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a 16-12 trial victory over St George Illawarra at WIN Stadium.   


Sydney Roosters star Todd Carney is arrested for low-range drink-driving after failing an early morning breath test. Carney vows to steer clear of alcohol for a “long, long time”.


Returning Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett appoints long-serving centre Justin Hodges as captain for 2015.


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