Greggory Howard Burrow
Gregg Burrow was the right man, in the right place at the right time. A burly, square-jawed, technically astute tighthead prop Burrow, while never the first man chosen and more-often-than-not the last, was part of two great Wallaby tours - the 1984 Grand Slam and the 1986 Bledisloe Cup win in New Zealand.
Burrow played his first rugby at No.8 / flanker with the Collaroy Cougars U7s on Sydney’s Northern beaches. He shifted to halfback at Pittwater House Prep school before eventually finding a home in the front row during his final year at the Shore School. Burrow played breakaway for the 2nd XV in his Year 12, and repeated in 1980, with the goal of qualifying to study medicine, and was moved to prop in the school’s 1st XV.
It was during Burrow’s “Year 13” that he experienced the first of what became a succession of late call-ups at representative level. Following Australian Schools’ 7-10 loss to Irish Schools the selectors made one change to the reserves bench - Burrow for Waverley’s Paul Bowman - for the following week’s clash with New Zealand Schools. While he did not make it onto the field in that match the die was cast.
A year away from the game in 1981 was followed by a couple of seasons in second grade at the University of Sydney before what turned into a remarkably whirlwind 1984. That season, Burrow made his first grade debut, earned a spot on the Australian Universities tour to the U.K. and Ireland after Andy McIntryre withdrew, made the New South Wales team for the tour of New Zealand when both John Coolican and Mark Harding declared themselves unavailable to take part, was selected as a reserve for NSW ‘B’ against the All Blacks only to start the match as Harding succumbed to injury, and finally received a call-up for the Eighth Wallabies tour following an injury to Cameron Lillicrap who tore the ligaments in his left ankle against Combined Services.
Burrow impressed his new team-mates, many of whom he barely knew, with his work ethic and dedication to training and following an excellent debut effort against a formidable Midlands Division side. Although only used in the mid-week fixtures, where he faced a series of tough opponents, Burrow emerged with an enhanced reputation. Mark Ella later wrote: “We called this easy-going guy the Flounder after that character in Animal House. He’d only been off the plane a few days as a replacement when he was tossed into a very hard game against Midlands. He didn't let the team down. I knew the name and that he played for Sydney University, but that was as much as I knew about Gregg Burrow. He surprised me with his scrummaging ability and proved a youngster who wanted to learn. He listened to Jones and listened to the guys. As a result he improved with every game”.
After the tour Burrow’s focus turned to his medical studies although he did represent both Sydney and the Waratahs in each of the following two years ahead of a highly anticipated Wallaby tour to New Zealand. Unfortunately for McIntyre he was again unavailable due to work commitments and Burrow won selection alongside Mark Hartill, Enrique Rodriguez and Mick Murray. Although his participation was largely restricted to mid-week matches he did start in the Saturday fixture against Counties a week ahead of the first Test. Unfortunately, Burrow suffered a nasty laceration to his calf, an injury which put paid to his debut cap aspirations. Nonetheless Burrow went about his work without complaint and returned from the Dominion with a most enviable undefeated record - P 7; W 6; D 1; L 0. The tour ended with the Wallabies’ 22-9 deciding Test victory to become just the fourth team ever, and the first Australian side since 1949, to win a series on New Zealand soil.
Burrow then retired from representative rugby in order to concentrate on his career. He graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery and was later admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (Orthopaedics). As part of his medical school training Burrow was sponsored by the Royal Australian Navy and began service in 1990 including six months at sea with fleet units deployed in South East Asia.
Burrow was an unused replacement for Australian Schools in their 19-21 loss to New Zealand Schools.
Burrow started six matches on the Eighth Wallabies tour - vs. Midland Division (W 21-18), Munster (W 31-19), vs. Llanelli (L 16-19), vs. Northern Division (W 19-12), vs. South of Scotland (L 6-9), and vs. Pontypool (W 24-18)
He played seven uncapped matches on the tour of New Zealand - vs. Waikato (D 21-21), vs. Counties (W 21-3), vs. Buller (W 62-0), vs. South Canterbury (W 33-11), vs. Southland W 55-0), vs. Bay of Plenty (W 41-13, replacement), and vs. Thames Valley (W 31-7)