Dallas John O'Neill
- 493Wallaby Number
Dallas O’Neill was a big, fast, attacking number eight whose representative career was ruined by injured. An inspirational leader, O’Neill was one of the best schoolboy footballers produced in Queensland.
Born at Mackay, O’Neill was sent to board at Nudgee College where he was regarded as a rugby prodigy. After school he went straight into First Grade at the Brothers Club. Within weeks O’Neill made his debut for Queensland against Victoria at Manly Oval, played in the Wallaby trials for the upcoming tour of New Zealand and after Brothers’ captain Peter Stevens was injured, found himself named in the Australian squad.
O’Neill played in five uncapped matches on that 1962 tour, all at flanker and not one at No.8, as the selectors opted for the taller Rob Heming at the back of the scrum. The following year O’Neill was a standout performer in the trials ahead of the tour to South Africa and was named in the squad as the first choice No.8. Strangely things did not work out that way. In the first match O’Neill was chosen on the side of the scrum and that trend continued throughout the tour. Of the 10 matches he played, O’Neill started just one game - against Rhodesia - in his preferred position.
Unfortunately, he suffered a groin injury against Transvaal and then made the gut-wrenching decision to withdraw from the first Test team. Sadly, the injury failed to heal and O’Neill missed each of the remaining three Tests. In 1964 O’Neill was again chosen as the first choice No.8 for the Wallaby tour to New Zealand and he finally earned a Test debut at Carisbrook. Tragedy struck in 1966 when the 23-year old broke his leg under a collapsed ruck in the second interstate match against New South Wales. O’Neill suffered a Pott’s fracture, which dislocated the foot and tore the bone away from the ankle. He had screws inserted and was determined to make the Fifth Wallabies tour to Britain.
O’Neill played the trials in pain as the screws had come loose however his name was not included in the final 30-man squad. Unsurprisingly disillusioned by the snub O’Neill switched codes to play rugby league with South Sydney.
O’Neill won his first Test cap at No.8 alongside Greg Davis and Jules Guerassimoff in the 1st Test, 9-14 loss to New Zealand in Dunedin. That same back row started in the 2nd Test, 3-18 defeat at Lancaster Park.