Harry Flexmore Roberts
- 464Wallaby Number
Harry Roberts was a wiry, hard-tackling, somewhat irascible utility back with a preference for fly half, who played every position except halfback during his career. A skilful tactical kicker, Roberts was also an adept dropped goal exponent, had “excellent hands and a fine step.
Born in Brisbane, Roberts was educated at St Joseph’s College Gregory Terrace, where he played two seasons in the school’s 1st XV (1955-56). He followed tradition to play his club rugby at Brothers and aged just 19 made his debut for Queensland at fullback against New South Wales at the Exhibition Ground. Later that same season Roberts was selected for his first Wallaby tour, to New Zealand, but did not play in the Tests.
By 1961 he had assumed the captaincy of Queensland and while unavailable for the tour match with Fiji due to injury, Roberts was selected to make his Test debut at inside centre in Brisbane. Amazingly he was the only Queenslander in the starting side. Although ‘smooth movement along the three-quarters’ saw the outside backs score four of the six tries the Australian selectors made four changes, one of which was Roberts, for the second Test in Sydney. Nonetheless he was back in the side, and at fly half, for the third Test in Melbourne.
Roberts was then one of just two Queenslanders, alongside halfback Owen Edwards, selected for the Wallaby tour to South Africa. Roberts travelled extensively in 1962 and did not play in the trials for the Wallaby tour to New Zealand, a series where the great Phil Hawthorne made his debut.
In 1964 Roberts switched codes to play rugby league with Norths in Brisbane.
Roberts won his first Test cap at inside centre alongside Jimmy Lisle in the 1st Test, 24-6 victory over Fiji in Brisbane. When John Dowse was ruled out of the 3rd Test in Melbourne with a badly sprained ankle, Roberts picked up a second cap and his first at fly half. After Australia were comprehensively beaten 3-28 in the 1st Test at Ellis Park against South Africa, Roberts returned to the side at fly half for the 2nd Test in Port Elizabeth. He retained his place outside of Ken Catchpole for the 8-15 loss to France at the S.C.G.