Bruce Joseph Harland
Bruce Harland was a strongly built, hard-running centre who in one magic season found his way from the rugby fields of Cobar, in central western New South Wales to a Wallaby tour of New Zealand.
Born in Nyngan, just east of Cobar, Harland was educated at the renowned Wallaby nursery, St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill. He played two seasons in the school’s much feted 1st XV (1957-58) and in his final year was awarded the prestigious Brother Henry Trophy as best back.
After school Harland returned to the country and it was from Cobar that he and four of his teammates were somehow included in the Petersham team that toured New Zealand in 1961. That experience clearly stood Harland in good stead a year later when he was chosen for Central West to face the might of the All Blacks in Bathurst. The visitors enjoyed a day out (W 41-6) however Harland must have done enough to catch the eye given that he made a star-stacked Country 1st XV, one that included Jim Lenehan, Beres Ellwood, Phil Hawthorne, Ken McMullen, Jon White, Jim Miller, Andy Laurie and Bill Gunther, for the All-States carnival in Sydney.
On the back of three tries from Newcastle winger Keith Walsham, Country defeated South Harbour (Sydney) 9-8 in the final of the tournament. As a consequence, it was no surprise that the winners had nine representatives - including Harland - who won selection in the final Australia vs. The Rest trial ahead of the Wallabies tour to New Zealand. In a post-trial review the press of the day wrote that Harland ‘played his way into the [touring] team with an impressive display’.
Harland hit the ground running and represented Australia in each of the opening four matches where he scored on debut against Poverty Bay and then added another try in the victory over Wairarapa. Two days before the opening Test Australia named seven debutantes, Harland included, for Wellington. Unfortunately, Harland suffered an ankle injury against Horowhenua and was unable to ‘get above a jog’ on test eve. Harland withdrew, his place taken by winger Jim Douglas, with Jim Boyce moving into the centres. The test ended in a 9-9 draw, a great result considering New Zealand had won both internationals in Australia just three months earlier. Although Harland returned to play three more matches on the tour, Dick Marks earned his debut cap in the second test and then proceeded to hold that outside centre spot for almost all of the next five seasons.
In 1963 Harland debuted for New South Wales, against Queensland. He also played for the Wallabies against New South Wales for a spot on the 1963 tour to South Africa however Marks, Ellwood, Peter Jones and Ian Moutray secured the centre selections. Harland continued to represent Country and he returned to the Dominion for a third time in 1967.
Harland played seven uncapped matches on the Wallaby tour to New Zealand – vs. Poverty Bay at Gisborne (W 31-6), vs. Counties at Papakura (W 20-14), vs. Wairarapa at Masterton (W 43-0), vs. Horowhenua at Levin (W 28-6), vs. North Otago at Oamaru (L 13-14), vs. Southland at Invercargill (L 11-16), and vs. Thames Valley at Te Aroha (L 14-16)