Donald Frederick Kraefft
- 351Wallaby Number
‘Joe’ Kraefft was possibly the best line-out and second-row forward of post-war rugby union football. Rangy and agile the University of Sydney product was highly mobile and an excellent two-handed line-out jumper. Kraefft was recognised as one of the finest forwards in the Third Wallabies touring team and Sir Nicholas Shehadie, in his autobiography A Life Worth Living, wrote that ‘Kraefft teamed with [Graham] Cooke as a powerhouse second-row pair for the 1947-48 tourists’.
After he graduated from the Shore school, Kraefft played his rugby with University before he enlisted and attained a rank of Lieutenant in the AIF.
He returned to University and rugby on a permanent basis in 1946 however his engineering studies saw him withdraw from consideration for the Wallaby tour to New Zealand. Kraefft came into his own the following season with two strong performances against New Zealand to earn selection in the second Test / Third Wallabies trial against the tourists. Although Australia lost 14 -27 Kraefft did enough to win a spot on the tour alongside fellow middle-rowers Phil Hardcastle, Shehadie and Cooke.
While travelling to England on the SS Orion, Kraefft was laid up for two weeks with a septic throat following a swim in the ship's pool. He lost 15 lbs due to the illness and was forced to stand down for the opening five tour matches. Nonetheless Kraefft developed into the Wallabies' most consistently successful forward and started in each of the internationals. He missed the 1949 series against the Maori due to a torn ligament in his right knee and was then unavailable for the subsequent tour to New Zealand. In 1951 Kraefft was made coach of University however he retired after one season in order to concentrate on his final year engineering studies.
‘Joe’ Kraefft played six Tests for Australia in a two-year international career.
Kraefft won his first Test cap at lock in combination with fellow debutant Nick Shehadie in the 2nd Test, 14-27 loss to New Zealand at the S.C.G.
Kraefft partnered Graham Cooke in the middle row for all five Tests of the Third Wallabies tour to the U.K. and Europe. It was written that the “dominance of Graham Cooke especially, and Joe Kraefft, in line-outs were the most striking features of the Wallabies’ superiority” across the five Tests in which the Wallabies did not concede a single try.