You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content

The Manly Sea Eagles are saddened to report the passing today of former captain-coach Wally O’Connell, aged 94.

An Easts junior, O’Connell played in Easts’ premiership winning team in 1945. A five-eighth, he impressed in the Test series against NZ with his blind-side running and resolute defence.

On the 1948-49 Kangaroo tour, O’Connell played in 5 Tests and captained Australia in the First Test against Great Britain.

O’Connell attempted to join Manly as captain-coach in 1950 but Easts appealed to the NSWRL. The Residential Status Committee ruled that he had not qualified to play for the Sea Eagles and ordered him to play for Easts.

In order to honour his agreement to coach Manly, O’Connell sat out the 1950 season rather than play for his former club – thereby forfeiting his Test position for the Ashes series against Great Britain.

Captain-coach of Manly in 1950-52, O’Connell regained his Test spot against France in 1951 but injury ruled him out of the Sea Eagles’ maiden grand final appearance that year.

He retired in 1952 after suffering an eye injury but returned to coach the Sea Eagles in 1966-67.

O’Connell coached Queensland in 1973.

The ‘GodFather of Manly’, Ken Arthurson, said O’Connell will always be remembered as one of the greatest players to pull on the maroon and white jersey.

“Wally’s arrival at Manly gave the club instant credibility in our early days,’’ Arthurson said.

“He was a wonderful person, a Kangaroos captain, and a player of tremendous talent.

“Wally rates up there alongside Bob Fulton and Cliff Lyons as the greatest five-eighths to play for Manly.”

O’Connell played 10 Test matches for Australia and was the Kangaroos’ oldest living Test captain.
 
He was a captain-coach of Manly in 1950-52, while he was also a Queensland coach in 1973.
 
“Wally was a wonderful five-eighth for Manly,” NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said.

“Very few players ever get to captain their country but it speaks for Wally’s talent and leadership that he was part of that select group.
 
“He leaves a wonderful legacy.
 
“He will be sorely missed by everyone at Manly, but also the game which he was a special part of.”

Rest in Peace, Wally O’Connell, from the Sea Eagles.

WALTER PATRICK (WALLY) O’CONNELL
Born: April 16, 1923, Sydney, NSW
 


CAREER OVERVIEW

                                                             Games             Trs             Gls             F/G              Pts
 
CLUB CAREER 1942-1952
 
Eastern Suburbs 1942-48                                                            
1942                                                         15            3             -             -            9
1943                                                         14            4             -             -          12
1944                                                         12            4            7             -          26
1945                                                         12            6             -             -          18
1946                                                         14            3             -             -            9
1947                                                         15            2             -             -            6
1948                                                         6              2             -             -            6
TOTAL                                                      88          24            7             -          86
 
Christian Brothers Wollongong 1949
 
Manly-Warringah 1951-52
1951                                                          18            7             -             -          21
1952                                                          16            4             -             -          12
TOTAL                                                       34          11             -             -          33
 
Club total does not include matches played for Christian Brothers, Wollongong. Because of a residential qualification dispute, O’Connell stood down from Manly for the 1950 season.
 
REPRESENTATIVE CAREER 1942-1952
 
CITY-COUNTRY 1943-1952
City 1943-1952                                            5            1             -             -            3
Country 1949                                               1             -             -             -            0
TOTAL                                                        6            1             -             -             3
 
NEW SOUTH WALES 1948-1952
v. Queensland 1948-1952                            5            1             -             -            3
v. touring ides 1948-1952                             3            2             -             -            6
TOTAL                                                         8            3             -             -            9
 
AUSTRALIA 1948-1951
Tests 1948-51                                              10            2             -             -            6
Tour matches 1948-49                                 21            3             -             -            9
TOTAL                                                         31            5             -             -          15
 
OTHER REP TEAMS 1942-1951                                              
Syd, Rest of NSW, Poss, Probs 1942-1951    6           5             -             -          15
 
TOTAL                                                        173          49            7             -        161
 
Wally O’Connell was graded by Eastern Suburbs in 1941 from the Graham’s club in the Eastern Suburbs juniors. He captained Australia in one Test match in 1948.


Source:     David Middleton
                 League Information Services