Edward Joseph O'Brien
Hailing from the mining town of Mt Morgan in Central Queensland, Ned O’Brien was such a bruising forward that he was known as ‘Bruiser’ O’Brien. This tough Country lock forward first came to notice in the Country Carnival that was held in 1904 in Brisbane, while the Queensland team was playing in the inter-State series in Sydney. Although the Central team was well beaten by the experienced Toowoomba side, two tight forwards impressed the State selectors- George Holmes from Rockhampton and O’Brien.
When Bedell-Sivright’s British team arrived in Brisbane to play Queensland, both Holmes and O’Brien were selected to make their debuts for the State team. For the return match, O’Brien moved to number 8 and again impressed so that he was retained for the inter-State matches in Brisbane later in the year.
The following season, O’Brien was incensed that the State selectors delayed naming the side to meet New South Wales so late that O’Brien did not have sufficient time to obtain leave to come down to Brisbane for the opening fixture. However, he did play in the return match and so impressed Jim Henderson and the other Australian selectors that he was named in the Australian team that toured New Zealand later that year. But first, Queensland had two matches in Sydney against New South Wales.
Many Queenslanders were struck by influenza and the team played badly as a result. However, O’Brien and Ben Lucas were considered two of the best forwards on the field and justified their inclusion. With the tour party split into two camps on tour, O’Brien was given only two matches in New Zealand - as a lock in the third match against Canterbury and also as a lock in the final match against Auckland. Soured by the experience, O’Brien dropped out of representative rugby.
In an era when the selectors neglected country players in Queensland, Ned O’Brien seized every opportunity and gained selection in an Australian touring team. In all, he played seven games for Queensland and two tour matches for Australia.