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Title: ... p63 Langlands- Comments Steve Hadden,Presenter/Reporter NINE NETWORK

p63 Langlands- inc (p58)Smith(p83)Provan(p36)Lewis(p64)Gas(p62)Raper- Comments Steve Hadden,Presenter/Reporter NINE


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Steve Hadden, Presenter/Reporter NINE NETWORK AUSTRALIA Brisbane

St George



Graeme Langlands inclusion as one of the Australian game's Immortals was long overdue. I regard him as the finest player I have ever seen and that includes fellow Immortal "The King" Wally Lewis.

There are a number of reasons for this, none the least his toughness and durability. On a site that tends to recognise fistic prowess as the great indicator, it is foolish to ignore some of the best exponents of the game who dominated the world's most exacting competition, then known as the New South Wales Rugby League, over a long period of time.

In his 15 years at the top with the great St George teams, Langlands's emerged as the fiercest and most dedicated competitor the game has seen. After the Saints had annexed their world record 11th straight premiership, St George began to haemorrhage great players and would lose the likes of Ian Walsh, Johny Raper, Reg Gasnier, Norm Provan, Johny King etc as the club sought to rebuild.

This left two players to dictate the club's fortunes in the years 1967-75 - fullback Langlands and his great playing partner and mate Test halfback Billy Smith. Both were gamebreakers in every sense of the word. In the 1971 grand final the Saints took on unbackable favorites South Sydney, a club at the end of its last great era. Nearly all the Souths players that day had or were to play for their country.

The Dragons had Langlands and Smith, and names like Col Rasmussen, Geoff Carr, Bob Clapham, Peter Fitzgerald, Graeme Bowen, Harry Eden and Ted Walton who were, to be fair, outmatched by their more highly credentialled opponents on that great day at the SCG.

Almost singlehandedly, the pair had driven the Dragons to victory over the star studded Manly-Warringah side in the preliminary final and nearly pulled off a miraculous upset in the grand final.

Smith was a danger in attack every time he ran the football and tackled fearlessly throughout. Langland's leadership on the day was impeccable as he dictated terms from fullback - he too a dangerman every time he chimed into the backline or returned the ball from kicks. Souths only ran out winners after extending an 11-10 scoreline with a Bob McCarthy try late in the game.

Langlands other great quality was his ability to play with serious injury. Week in week out he would rank in the Saints' best players, despite carrying injuries that would sideline mere mortals for weeks. He would never be denied the chance to lead the famous Blood and Bandages into battle.

My other great memory of the one they called "Changa" was the final test match against the Chooms at the SCG in 1974 when a late conversion from the touchline lifted the Australians to a series victory. The chants of "Changa" "Changa" reverberated in and around the Sydney Cricket Ground for hours.

The great Changa getting chaired from the field after leading Australia in his last test - 3rd test 1974
L-R Coote, Stevens, Williamson, Chang, Raudonikis, O'Neill, (maybe fulton obscured) and Turner.

Langlands is an immortal in every sense of the word. He is a shy man and often reluctant to entertain the many plaudits that come his way but I do hope he appreciates and celebrates each and every day the immense enjoyment he gave to supporters of all clubs during what was the greatest league career in living memory.

Appears in the following pages ....P36_ Wally LEWIS, P58_Billy SMITH, P62_Johnny RAPER, P63_ Changa LANGLANDS, P64_Reg GASNIER, P83_Norm PROVAN
Date of posting ... 06-May-2006
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