In light of all the recent Gregan debate and the claim that there are more deserving players that should be in the Hall of Fame before him (a fair point), I thought Iâ€™d nominate the Australian player I thought was probably more deserving than almost any other; John â€˜Nobodyâ€™ Eales.
John Eales achieved absolutely everything in international Rugby and is widely regarded as one of international rugbyâ€™s most prestigious players. Eales started his international career as a pivotal part of Australiaâ€™s 1991 RWC Championship, and though there were some mean years to follow greater things would also certainly come. He was made captain of the Wallabies in 1996, a move that was controversial at the time amid claims he was â€œtoo mild mannedâ€ to lead an international rugby teamâ€¦ those claims were soon to be put to bed however, as Eales captained the Wallabies to their second RWC win in 1999 RWC, a win in which the team conceded only a single try in the whole tournament. Over the next couple of years following their RWC win Eales led Australia to several incredible victories, including the 2000 Bledisloe Cup final in Wellington in which he nailed a last minute penalty to seal the match, an event which was replicated in Durban when Mortlock kicked a last minute goal to hand Australia and Eales the Tri Nations Championship for the first time ever. Then in 2001 Eales led Australia to a thrilling series win over a British and Irish Lions side dubbed â€˜the best Lions team everâ€™. This incredible streak meant that at one point under Eales the Wallabies held every single trophy they were contesting! Not a bad effort for a country with a rugby playing population one third of South Africaâ€™s and a sixth of Englandâ€™s! It was for this reason Eales was nicknamed â€˜Nobodyâ€™, because â€˜Nobodyâ€™s perfectâ€™. Ealesâ€™ leadership and grace did not stop at the field however, and he was well respected by almost everyone in world rugby because of his incredible composure, prowess and for the respect he showed to all his opponents and even the media. It was this grace which earnt him another name; â€˜the gentleman captainâ€™.
It is for these reasons that I believe that John â€˜Nobodyâ€™ Eales is a candidate for the Hall of Fame that simply cannot be overlooked.