Frederick Raymond Kerr
- 314Wallaby Number
Fred Kerr was a powerful forward from Victoria who converted to rugby from Australian Rules, played Test rugby for his country and then lost his life on the battlefield during World War II.
Born and bred in Melbourne, Kerr played Rules football during his time at both the Middle Park school and Melbourne High School. Kerr did not take a serious interest in rugby until 1936 after he had trained with the St. Kilda F.C. seconds but did not win selection. At the time rugby teams were playing rounds between Albert Park and St. Kilda so Kerr decided to have a shot at the fifteen man game.
A near immediate success Kerr found himself playing first grade for the Power House club in 1937. Opponents there knew him as a tireless worker in the loose rucks, powerful in scrums and invaluable in line-outs, where his height and early Australian football experience were assets. That same year Kerr was chosen to represent Victoria against South Australia and Western Australia where he 'acquitted himself well’. In 1938 he was selected in the Victorian side that went to Sydney and split the two game series with New South Wales. It was said that Kerr’s performances 'won praise from the rugby big wigs of Sydney.’ Only 20, and in just his second year of rugby, Kerr was handed a Test debut against New Zealand in Sydney where he played ’solidly’.
Unfortunately, Australia were handed a one-sided, 9-24 defeat and as a result, some writers of the day even referred to it as a panic, the Wallaby selectors make seven changes for Brisbane and Aub Hodgson moved from flanker to take Kerr’s place at the back of the scrum. Undeterred, Kerr focussed his rugby ambitions on inclusion in the Second Wallaby team to tour Great Britain however a knee/ankle injury prevented him being considered for the trip. He suffered the injury in a club match a few weeks before the Victorian trial games for international selection and as a consequence was not available for the Victorian XV that subsequently played at the interstate carnival in Sydney. Kerr enlisted in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force in late 1939, rose to the rank of Lance Bombardier with the 2/2nd Field Regiment, saw active service at Bardia, Tobruk, Benghazi, Crete and finally Greece where he was killed in action in April, 1941.
Kerr won his first Test cap at No.8 in the 1st Test, 9-24 loss to New Zealand at the S.C.G.