Geoffrey Ellington Steanes
Geoff Steanes was, at 13st 3lb (84kg), one of the four biggest forwards in the 1921 New South Wales team that toured New Zealand. He was one of a number of second-stringers in that touring party who got little match time across the Tasman and were then not chosen again, despite the side’s fine record.
Steanes was definitely the fourth lock named in the party, as Jumbo Holdsworth, Charlie Fox and Big George McKay were also included. All three had played before Steanes was given a run, against the little-regarded Bay of Plenty in the tour’s third match.
Steanes had a strong game, which included his scoring a try, and along with Fox was picked out as the best of a good visiting pack. Perhaps it was his misfortune to play against Poverty Bay in the next match, as the tourists took the chance to give a lot of the second-stringers a run and this untried combination never got into any rhythm. The match was won handily (26-8) but for players like Steanes, who needed the breaks on this tour, it was not the team effort required. As many as six players, all of them backups, seemed to have their cards marked after this match and played a combined total of six matches between them for the rest of the tour.
Steanes and Holdsworth, the lock pairing, were both placed in the doghouse and neither was chosen again for a fortnight. Steanes’ last appearance on tour was against West Coast, when the visitors won an entertaining match on a dry field, but with the Test next and then a match with Ranfurly Shield holder Wellington to end the tour, he was not required again.
Despite being a young man and chosen for his promise, Steanes was not sighted in any of the leading teams – the State team, the State seconds or Metropolitan Union selections – after the 1921 season. While he had not been one of the tour stars – hardly surprising given that he only had three matches – his subsequent non-selection is another of those strange selection posers that abounded in the 1920s.