James Justin Walsh
- 401Wallaby Number
Jim Walsh was a tough and tireless 80-minute forward who revelled in the physical encounters that were the bread and butter for the tight five. Walsh never gave less than 100 per cent and always played the ball, not the man. Importantly, for a hooker, he was rarely, if ever, beaten in the scrum count. Walsh was quick and mobile in the open play and a fearless tackler.
Born in Orange, Walsh was educated at Homebush Boys' High School. From his earliest years he was obsessed with playing rugby in winter and cricket in summer. His sporting life was interrupted by the war and Walsh joined the RAAF where he served in Borneo.
In 1948, Walsh played First Grade for Western Suburbs and that same year made his senior representative debut for New South Wales in the fourth match against Queensland. Two years later Walsh played for the state side which defeated Great Britain 17-12 at Newcastle. Walsh decisively won the scrums against the Irish captain Karl Mullen and had an outstanding game in the tight exchanges.
In 1952 Walsh was prominent in the tough, physical 14-14 draw between New South Wales and Fiji His good performance in that match, and the earlier interstate series, saw Walsh chosen for his first Wallaby tour, to New Zealand.
Walsh played four matches however the incumbent hooker Nev Cottrell started in both Tests.
In 1953, Cottrell retired from representative rugby after he suffered torn knee cartilage in a game for Brisbane against Toowoomba. When the Wallaby team to tour South Africa was announced, Walsh and Eastwood’s John Bain were selected as hookers. Walsh started all four Tests in a series highlighted by Australia’s 18-14 victory in Cape Town that handed the Springboks their first loss since 1938.
Walsh retired from rugby after that tour due to the pressure of work and home commitments. Nonetheless, Walsh maintained a passion for rugby all his life.
Walsh won his first Test cap at hooker propped by Bob Davidson and Nick Shehadie in the 1st Test, 3-25 loss to South Africa at Ellis Park. Col Forbes joined Walsh and Shehadie in the front row for the final three Tests of the series.