Donald Keith Price
Don Price was the younger brother of celebrated dual international and Parramatta rugby league legend Ray Price. A tireless back row forward with a preference for No.8, Don forged his own career in rugby and deservedly became a Wallaby when chosen for the first official Australian tour of Fiji in 1980.
While Price played his early rugby as an outside centre for both the Dundas Valley Lions and Telopea Primary School his Parramatta U10s representative coach moved him closer to the action at flanker. Price played rugby league during his secondary years at Cumberland High School including two seasons of 1st grade. He finally transitioned to No.8 when he joined his two brothers - Ray and Michael - at Parramatta.
Price’s first senior representative rugby opportunity came in 1978 when he debuted at flanker for Sydney against the Australian Barbarians however it was his third match some five weeks later that will forever live in the memory of all those fortunate enough to have been at the Sydney Sports Ground. Now back at No.8, and facing Five Nations’ champions Wales, Sydney trailed 15-16 with just a couple of minutes left on the clock. The home side, camped in the attacking quarter, were pressing for the winning score when the ball came to Welsh winger Gareth Evans who attempted a clearing kick. The clearance was mis-timed and Sydney winger Laurie Monaghan took a ‘superb catch’ literally on the sideline. With the crowd screaming, ‘Goal Laurie, goal’, Monaghan dropped a ‘monumental’ field goal from 40 metres out and Sydney won 18-16. A debut for New South Wales soon followed for Price however Wales rebounded emphatically to record an 18-0 victory.
The following year Price starred for Sydney when they handed Ireland their only tour loss with a 16-12 victory at the Sydney Sports Ground. The press of the day wrote that number eight Don Price "was a revelation” who "marauded magnificently in the loose, setting up incisive breaks and repeatedly chopping off Irish raids." The article continued: "With [lock forward Keith] Besomo dominating the middle of the line outs Price cleaned up at the tail, eclipsing Ireland's British Lions pair of skipper Fergus Slattery and Willie Duggan.” That performance earned Price selection for The Rest vs. Australia in the final trial ahead of the first ever Wallaby tour to Argentina. The press wrote that Price’s inclusion in the squad was dependent on whether Besomo, in doubt as a result of a six-match suspension for ‘wilful kicking’ in the final Shute Shield round, would be permitted to join the tour.
Although Besomo’s suspension was upheld, Wallaby coach Bob Templeton intervened after he had studied the Pumas in their recent Test series against New Zealand. "Make no mistake, the Argentinians are particularly strong up front", Templeton said. "Their props are extremely mobile and maul tigerishly. The All Blacks were forced to the limit to win both internationals - only their greater scrummaging experience provided minimal difference between the two sides". Templeton’s view was enough for the selectors to opt for a fourth prop, John Coolican, at the expense of Price.
The 1980 domestic season started without incumbent Wallaby No.8 Mark Loane who had left for a sabbatical in South Africa. Following Sydney’s defeat of a President’s XV, Sydney coach Peter Crittle said he “was pleased with the form shown by the forwards and I thought Don Price and Simon Poidevin went very well.” A solid performance in New South Wales’ 36-20 defeat of Queensland was enough to secure Price inclusion in the Wallaby squad for the short tour to Fiji. He debuted for Australia against Nadi however Duncan Hall started at No.8 and Queensland’s Peter McLean was the reserve middle / back row forward for the one-off Test in Suva.
A year later the trials for the Seventh Wallabies’ tour to the U.K. were keenly contested and the composition of the back row proved to be one of the most difficult to predict. Greg Cornelsen, Gary Pearse, Chris Roche and Tom Barker all turned in strong games however St George’s Peter Lucas, who was tireless in the loose, had “an outstanding game” for the Australian XV vs. The Rest. Unfortunately for Price he left the field with a leg muscle strain after just 25 minutes of the Probables vs. Possibles match. On the back of his trial form Lucas earned a tour berth at the expense of three Wallabies - Pearse, Barker and Price. As a consequence of his non-selection, Price switched codes to play rugby league, initially with Penrith (1982-84) and later Parramatta (1985, 87).
Price played one match for Australia on the short tour to Fiji - vs. Nadi (W 25-11) in Lautoka.