Peter Dunn was young by front row standards when he was thrust into the national selection frame at a time when Australian rugby was in a lull.
Unfortunately he only had a short career in Australian colours but was lost to the game all too soon when he switched codes to play rugby league with Collegians (Wollongong). Born and bred in Manly, Dunn played his club rugby for the Marlins.
In 1958 he made his representative debut for New South Wales against the 1957/58 Wallabies at North Sydney Oval. Later that season four incumbent prop forwards from the home series against the Maori – Bob Davidson (not selected), Kerry Larkin, ‘Slaggy’ Miller and Geoff Vaughan (each unavailable) – did not tour to New Zealand and Dunn was chosen for his first Wallaby squad.
He was then selected to make play his maiden Test alongside fellow Manly debutant Keith Ellis in Wellington. Dunn was unknown in New Zealand when he arrived, but quickly attracted attention as one of the best tight forwards in the party.
His combination with Ellis and Newcastle hooker Ron Meadows was one of the main strengths in a team which was written off before departure but surprised the pundits by their performances. In the 2nd Test at Lancaster Park the All Blacks struggled against a fired-up Wallabies who had been humbled 3-25 at Athletic Park. A stunned Christchurch crowd witnessed one of the biggest shocks in Test rugby of that time.
The forwards, led by the impressive front row, outplayed their more highly rated opponents as they disabled the All Blacks’ key attacking weapon, a sound set piece. The Wallaby defence was a vast improvement than it had been at Wellington and All Black over-confidence was gradually replaced with something akin to panic. Australia grew throughout the match and thoroughly deserved their 6-3 victory.
The following year Dunn started against the Lions however Australia did not play any Test rugby in 1960 and in 1961 Miller, Jon White and John Thornett began their multi-year domination of the Wallaby front row selection.
Peter Dunn played five Tests for Australia in a two-year international career.
Vale Peter Keith Dunn.
1958 – Dunn won his first Test cap at prop alongside Ron Meadows and Keith Ellis in the 1st Test, 3-25 loss to New Zealand at Athletic Park. That same front-row started each of the final two Tests of the series.
1959 – Dunn and Ellis propped Peter Johnson in both home losses to the British Lions.
Peter Dunn with the 1958 Wallabies New Zealand Touring Team