Gavan Rex Horsley
- 407Wallaby Number
Gavan Horsley was a strongly built, flying three-quarter who had the misfortune for his representative career to coincide with that of two magnificent Wallaby wingers in Eddie Stapleton and Garth Jones. A prolific try scorer and solid defender, Horsley’s surf lifesaver physique was more suited to the centres rather than the wing.
It was in the water that Horsley first came to prominence. An outstanding junior beltman, Horsley joined the Burleigh Heads life saving club. In 1950, aged 17, he bravely rescued club mate Leo Ryan who was attacked by a shark and in the process lost a hand. Horsley swam out with a belt and although the shark continued to circle, rescued Ryan. The Royal Humane Society awarded Horsley a silver medal for his effort.
Horsley played his club rugby to GPS after he graduated from ‘Churchie’ and made his representative debut for Queensland in 1952, aged just 19. Early the following year Horsley emerged a strong chance of selection for the Wallaby tour to South Africa after he was selected to play for The Rest in the final trial against ‘Australia’. Horsley was selected for the tour, played in 12 matches, and scored a team high 14 tries but missed out to Jones and Stapleton for the Tests.
The following year, Horsley injured the ligaments in his left ankle when he played for Queensland against Fiji. Nonetheless he was named in the centres to make his Test debut in Brisbane but eventually withdrew because of the ankle injury. Three weeks later Horsley was again selected at centre however right winger Eddie Stapleton was controversially dropped because he failed to attend training three days before the second Test. As a consequence reserve back Herb Barker was promoted to centre and Horsley shifted to the right wing for his Test debut in Sydney. Unfortunately it was a game of few opportunities for the outside backs and ended on a sour note with a disputed penalty that allowed Fiji to convert the decisive penalty goal.
Horsley played one further season with Queensland and ended his playing career at just 22 to devote his time to a career that took him to Malaysia, Melbourne and later to Perth. He maintained an interest in rugby and in 1971 became a State and Australian selector.
Gavan Horsley played one Test for Australia and will forever be Wallaby #407.
Horsley won his first Test cap on the right wing in the 16-18, 2nd Test loss to Fiji at the S.C.G.