Benjamin Clement Lucas
- 68Wallaby Number
Ben Lucas was a brilliant flanker who forced his way into the Australian team and became the outstanding flanker in Australia until a cruel injury ended his career. He began his senior career with the unfashionable East Brisbane club in 1903 as a wing three-quarter. In the next season, Lucas moved to flanker for Easts and found his true position. The backrow competition in Brisbane was fierce and Lucas was not chosen for Queensland until 1905 after he had switched clubs and moved to South Brisbane. He made his State debut along with two other future internationals - Peter Flanagan and Jack Fihelly. After seeing Lucas perform brilliantly in both Brisbane matches, Jim Henderson was so impressed that he marked Lucas down for the Wallaby tour of New Zealand later in the year. Henderson, who was up from Sydney for the matches in his capacity as an Australian selector, was also named as manager of the Australian touring team. When the Australian team was announced after the interstate games in Brisbane, Lucas was included along with nine other team-mates.
Later, when the Queensland team was hit by an influenza epidemic and played badly in both matches in Sydney, southern critics could not believe that players such as McLean and Fred Nicholson had been selected and this counted against them on the tour. On the other hand, the critics agreed that Ned O’Brien and Lucas were outstanding for Queensland and worthy of selection. The touring forwards were oddly chosen with only three front rowers in the team. When Jimmy Clarken was rested for the third tour match at Lancaster Park, Lucas was drafted into the front row with Oxlade and Burdon. So impressively did Lucas perform that he was chosen for the Test match at Dunedin and in the remaining games on the tour. Blair Swannell rated Lucas highly in a letter to JC Davis, the editor of The Referee, which he published. At the tour’s end, Henderson told The Referee that Lucas was the most improved player on the tour.
Having returned a proven international performer, Lucas rose to great heights in the next two seasons when he formed a formidable backrow with Fihelly and Flanagan in all three interstate matches. In 1907, Ben Lucas looked forward to tackling the All Blacks on their tour of Australia. In the opening interstate clash in Sydney, he commiserated with his old team -mate, Harold Judd, who suffered a broken leg that ended his representative career. Lucas played an inspirational game and spearheaded Queensland to a win by 11 points to 6. Next match, poor Ben Lucas felt the hand of fate. He suffered a crippling knee injury that ended his career prematurely. As it was, Peter Flanagan took the Test flanker’s position against the All Blacks that would have gone to Lucas, and Jack Fihelly joined Flanagan in the back row for the second Test match. Lucas was such a fine footballer that he does not deserve to be dismissed as a ‘one Test wonder’. He was much too fine a footballer for that epithet.