“…Steve Merrick, the coalminer plucked from the bush to become a Wallaby, and when asked to name his price, didn’t have one.”
While this website predominantly chronicles my and my friends’ love of AFL, I’m also a huge rugby union fan. I was absolutely obsessed with the game as a teenager and would spend hours cutting out newspaper clippings to stick into scrapbooks and recording test matches to watch over and over again. I still adore it though thankfully my behaviour has calmed down significantly since then.
I was only thinking the other day about Steve Merrick, an unassuming bloke from the Hunter Valley, who was seemingly picked out of nowhere to play two tests as scrum half for the Wallabies in 1995. It was in that moment right before rugby imploded and turned professional and after just those two tests, he walked away from representative football. It was – and still is – an incredible story.
Earlier tonight I was scrolling through Facebook and noticed a friend had posted the link to an excellent piece by Patrick Skene in The Guardian about Merrick. It’s an amazing read and took me back to my youth, the days of VHS tapes and pocket money spent on newspapers. Rugby is such a beautiful game to watch and no matter how much of my time AFL takes up these days, union always feels like home.
You can read the article on The Guardian website here – even if you’re not a rugby fan, it’s a brilliant story.
“Having missed his first Wallabies training session due to a previous commitment – ‘I had to bring a mate back to Singo’ – a strange thing happened to Merrick after another session he did make it to. He was pulled into a side room to be met by players sitting at a table who wanted to discuss a rebel union competition. They were offering $100,000 to sign as a professional and if it didn’t go ahead he could keep the sign on fee. Easy money.
Merrick, however, burst into laughter.’I can’t believe I’m hearing this,’ he told them, ‘I play footy because I want to play footy. That’s it.'”