Edwin Maurice Purkiss
- 434Wallaby Number
Ted Purkiss was a tireless, robust and hard tackling flanker who, like teammate Ken Yanz, benefited from the success of his Gordon club to be a surprise inclusion on the Fourth Wallabies tour in 1957/58.
Born and raised in Grafton, Purkiss played rugby league at Grafton High School. After leaving school, Purkiss moved to Newcastle, began a course as a fitter and turner and joined the Wanderers Rugby Club where he played for two seasons (1954-55).
His first call to representative honours came in 1954 when he was chosen in a Newcastle side to play against New South Wales Country on their return from a tour of New Zealand. Purkiss then relocated to Sydney, joined the highly successful Gordon club and won the 1956 First Grade premiership. The following year his consistent club efforts were rewarded with selection for North Harbour against South Harbour, the New South Wales Colts, then the national trials for the Fourth Wallabies tour.
The Australian selectors stunned when they omitted several prominent players including Dick Tooth, Keith Cross and ‘Chilla’ Wilson, and chose a number of less well known players. Purkiss, who had not yet represented New South Wales, was one of the shock selections in the touring team. Nonetheless, Purkiss proved he was not in the side purely to make up the numbers and was rewarded with a Test debut against Scotland.
At the start of the 1959 season, and at the persuasion of Sir Leslie Herron, Purkiss left Gordon and joined Norths where he elected to play in the centres however the positional change proved difficult.
He returned home to Grafton, played rugby league and led the South Grafton Rebels to the 1961 Group Two rugby league first-grade premiership.
Purkiss won his first Test cap at flanker alongside John Thornett and ‘Mac’ Hughes in the 8-12 loss to Scotland at Murrayfield. He earned a second cap, also at flanker, in combination with Jack Pashley and Kevin Ryan in the 1st Test, 15-14 victory over the Maori at Brisbane.