Herbert Samuel Barker
- 387Wallaby Number
A gifted inside centre, Herb Barker was also a great all-round sportsman who excelled at basketball and athletics. Barker played a decade of basketball for New South Wales, won the state decathlon championship in 1950, and that same year was awarded a bronze medal in the hammer throw at the Empire Games in New Zealand. Born in Sydney, Barker attended Bourke Street and Darlinghurst Public Schools, where he played rugby league. After school he played for Moore Park in the Burke, Whiddon and Kentwell Cup sub-district competitions. That team was the first to win all three competitions undefeated. Barker began as a forward but had switched to fly half when he was spotted by the Randwick Club in a curtain-raiser at the S.C.G. Randwick invited him to trial and he was graded in Firsts as an inside centre in 1951, but as he prefered to play fly half, decided not to play with club rugby at all.
In 1952 Barker turned down an offer to play rugby league with a famous Lancashire club before he joined Randwick as their first choice fly half. Barker impressed with his variety of skills - he had good speed, great hands, a handy sidestep / swerve and an effective palm. He was also an excellent goal-kicker. After just four First Grade matches Barker made his New South Wales debut and six-odd weeks later he played his maiden Test against Fiji in Sydney. Barker toured New Zealand in 1952 and South Africa the following season and it was in the republic that he struggled to unseat John Solomon from the inside centre position before the captain was surprisingly omitted for the final Test. Barker’s representative career would have been more extensive had he not suffered niggling leg muscle and knee problems. After he retired, Barker took up golf and played pennants with a handicap of 3. Herb Barker played seven Tests for Australia in a three year international career.
Barker won his first Test cap at inside centre alongside captain John Solomon in the 1st Test, 15-9 victory over Fiji at the S.C.G. That pairing were retained for the 2nd Test, also in Sydney, and both internationals of the away series against New Zealand.
He picked up a single cap at inside centre in combination with JIm Phipps for the fourth and final Test of the tour to South Africa.
Barker and Phipps were paired in the centres for the two home internationals against Fiji.