Fabian Joseph Charles "Fabe" McCarthy
- 375Wallaby Number
‘Fabe’ McCarthy was a ruthlessly determined, hard-rucking, tireless and tough-as-teak forward, whose physical fitness developed from long days working on his dairy farm. Born in Roma but raised in Greenmount, a rural town in the Toowoomba region, McCarthy was sent away to the Sisters of St Joseph nuns at Helidon Convent for the early years of his secondary education. It was not until McCarthy had transferred to Darwin during World War II that he developed an interest in contact sport and particularly rugby.
Following his discharge McCarthy played union on Saturday and league on Sunday where he won premierships with GPS (Toowoomba) as well as league premierships with Wanderers (Greenmount-Nobby) and Allora. McCarthy’s first taste of representative football came in 1947 when he played for Toowoomba against both Brisbane and New South Wales. Considered ‘promising though a trifle raw’ he made his debut for Queensland the following year against New England in Armidale and went on to play 17 of the state’s 19 matches through to the end of the 1950 season. In 1949, McCarthy earned a spot on the highly successful Wallaby tour of New Zealand after incumbents Phil Hardcastle and Eric Tweedale were unable to make the trip due to business commitments.
While not selected for either of the two internationals, McCarthy was in the winning side in each of the four uncapped matches in which he played. A year later McCarthy, at lock, ‘played brilliantly’ in the interstate series and proved himself to be ‘the finest tight forward playing in Australia.’ With Test prop Jack Baxter still recovering from the explosion aboard the LST Tarakan the Australian selectors threw their faith behind McCarthy and named him at prop, a position he had only played twice before at senior representative level, to face the might of the British Lions in Brisbane. The 6-19 first Test loss prompted four changes for Sydney, one of which saw Roger Cornforth brought in at lock and Nick Shehadie shifted forward into the front row for McCarthy. In 1951 McCarthy stepped away from rugby following an operation combined with the fact that he had found it difficult to find labour for his farm. ‘Fabe’ McCarthy played one Test for Australia and will forever be Wallaby #375.
McCarthy won his first Test cap at prop alongside Nev Cottrell and Keith Gordon in the 1st Test, 6-19 defeat to the British Lions at the Gabba.