The Australian Rugby community is mourning the loss of Wallaby 474 Norm Storey, who passed away last Monday aged 87.
Storey was a clever, talented and much-travelled fly half whose international career was impacted by injury and the emergence of the great Phil Hawthorne.
Born in Sydney, Storey was educated at The Scots College, where he played three seasons in the 1st XV, and went on to become a commercial airline pilot for TAA. He played his club rugby with Eastern Suburbs and in 1955 made his First Grade debut at just 18 years of age.
Two years later Storey made a rather extraordinary senior representative debut when picked for South Australia against New South Wales Country in the trials ahead of the Fourth Wallabies tour to Britain.
Originally named as a reserve for one of the two City sides, Storey along with University halfback Jim Harris, Randwick hooker Paul Johnson, and University prop Terry Bolin were permitted to turn out for South Australia because of the Asian flu casualties in that side.
In 1958, Storey made his debut for New South Wales against the 1957/58 Wallabies at North Sydney Oval but subsequently tore his Achilles in a club game which kept him out of the game for a considerable period of time.
Once recovered, Storey resumed his career at Easts and was shifted into the forwards before dual All Black / Wallaby (#290) Ted Jessep returned him to fly half. It proved to be a coaching masterstroke.
In 1962, Storey was selected as the starting fly half for New South Wales to play the All Blacks. New South Wales pulled off a stunning 12-11 upset and Storey was rewarded with a Test debut in Brisbane.
The Wallabies lost the match 6-20 and although Peter Johnson later said that Storey was “arguably Australia’s best player” he was one of six changes made for the second Test. The decision not to select Storey for that match always puzzled his halves partner Ken Catchpole, who of all people was the best qualified to judge a fly half.
He said: “It was a mystery. He absolutely annihilated his opponent and was dropped.” Hawthorne debuted soon thereafter and made the fly half position his own until 1967.
Storey left for Perth and in 1963 was selected for a Western Australia XV against the 1963 Wallabies on their way to South Africa. Amazingly he was capped for a fourth state when chosen to start for Victoria against the Springboks in 1965. Storey came back to Sydney, played half a season at Easts but broke his back and retired.
Norm Storey played one Test for Australia and will forever be Wallaby #474.
Norm is survived by children Matt, John and Nicole and grandchildren Jordan, Geneva, Xavier, Tom, James, Chloe, India and Cleo.