Andrew Gerard Slack
- 595Wallaby Number
Andrew Slack will forever be remembered as the captain of the ‘Grand Slam’ winning Eighth Wallabies. A specialist fly half in his youth, Slack adapted his game to the intricacies of both centre positions. As a player Slack was a quiet achiever, an organiser in midfield, the link man with safe hands and clever ball-distribution skills. He played a valuable, subtle and understated role in the three-quarters.
Slack was also a survivor as he partnered eight different centres in his 39 Test career. As a captain Slack was quiet, thoughtful, introspective and intelligent. He was a great communicator who led by both example and force of character. Importantly there was a common thread between Slack and the rise and rise of Queensland and Australian Rugby.
Slack debuted for Queensland in 1975, aged 19, at fly half against Combined Services. When Wallaby centre David L’Estrange retired there was a gap at outside centre the selectors experimented with Slack and he did not let them down. Amazingly Australia did not play a Test in 1977 so when the Welsh arrived for a two Test series the following year it had been more than 18 months since the Wallabies had last played an international.
Slack made his Test debut against the Welsh in Brisbane. On the basis of his form Slack was selected for his first Wallaby tour the same year, to New Zealand. While Slack was not chosen for the famous 30-12, 3rd Test win at Eden Park he did partner Geoff Shaw a year later when Australia won the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in 30 years.
In 1984 new Wallaby coach Alan Jones decided that whichever captain was on the winning side in the New South Wales-Queensland clashes would be his Australian captain. As a result Andrew Slack became the 58th Wallaby to captain his country.
The ‘Grand Slam tour’ victory and the 1986 Bledisloe Cup win on New Zealand soil, both under Slack’s leadership, will forever go down in Australian rugby folklore. Slack also led Australia to the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup.
Andrew Slack played 39 Tests for Australia in a highly decorated 10-year international career. In 1986 he was made a member of the Order of Australia for his services to rugby and in 2010 he was inducted into the Wallaby Hall of Fame.
Slack won his first Test cap at outside centre alongside fellow debutant Martin Knight in the 1st Test, 18-8 victory over Wales at Ballymore. Both he and Knight were retained for the 2nd Test, 19-17 win in Sydney. Slack was also capped in the 1st and 2nd Tests of the tour to New Zealand. Represented Australia at the Hong Kong 7s.
Tony Melrose and Bill McKid paired for the home series against Ireland before Slack returned outside of Geoff Shaw for the one-off, 12-6 Bledisloe Cup victory at the S.C.G. He toured Argentina and played both Tests at No.12 Michael O’Connor at outside centre.
Slack picked up a single cap at inside centre in combination with O’Connor in the 22-9 defeat of Fiji in Suva but missed the Bledisloe Cup series due to an injured right shoulder.
Michael Hawker and O’Connor lined up in both Tests against France however Slack was selected on the Seventh Wallabies tour to Britain where he played No.13 in all four internationals. He scored his first Test try in the 13-18 loss to Wales in Cardiff.
He earned one cap at outside centre in the 1st Test, 7-12 loss to Scotland at Ballymore but was replaced by O’Connor for the return Test in Sydney. Slack was chosen for the Wallaby tour to New Zealand however Gary Ella played outside Michael Hawker in the opening two Tests before Slack was reinstated for the 18-33 loss at Eden Park.
Slack played the opening five Tests of the year outside Hawker before Gary Ella came back into the side for the two away Tests against France.
Slack became the 58th Wallaby to captain his country and he started in all eight Tests and partnered Michael Lynagh in all four internationals of the ‘Grand Slam’ tour.
Slack did not play any Tests after he voluntarily retired upon his return from the ‘Grand Slam’ tour.
He returned to lead Australia against Italy and France but did not play in the home series against Argentina due to the combination of a badly bruised calf muscle and mild concussion. Slack led the side in all three Tests on the tour to New Zealand when Australia won a three Test series on New Zealand for the first time in history.
In his final season of international rugby Slack won seven caps, six as captain and one under the leadership of Simon Poidevin in the Rugby World Cup pool game against Japan.