James Kenneth Lenehan

  • 24Caps
  • 430Wallaby Number
PositionFullback / Centre
Date Of BirthApril 29, 1938
Place of BirthNarrandera, NSW
SchoolSaint Ignatius' College, Riverview
Debut ClubSt George
ProvinceN/A (NSW 1958-67)
Other ClubWagga Wagga Waratahs, Narrandera
Debut Test Match1958 Wallabies v Wales, Cardiff
Final Test Match1967 Wallabies v Ireland, Sydney
DiedAugust 26, 2022


Jim Lenehan was an outstanding athlete who had the rare honour of selection for both the Fourth and Fifth Wallaby tours to Britain. At 14 stone and 6 foot 2 inches, Lenehan had an enormous physical presence for an Australian back of that era and unsurprisingly he kicked the football a prodigious mile. He was extremely versatile, equally good at fullback, centre and even on the wing, ran strongly and was the most punishing defender.

Born in Narrandera, Lenehan was educated at Saint Ignatius College, Riverview where he starred in both rugby and athletics. Lenehan’s rugby potential was quickly and easily recognised by Australian coach Alan Roper, who coached at the school. Amazingly, despite no representative experience whatsoever, Lenehan was selected on the bench for the 1957-58 Wallaby trials and, even though he did not play in those trials, won selection for the Fourth Wallabies aged just 19. He was switched to centre when Jim Phipps suffered a broken leg and took on a very heavy tour workload, played 32 of the 41 matches, and was selected to make his Test debut against Wales.

He was the leading points scorer on that tour, with 114 points (13T, 9C, 18PG, 1DG). Lenehan would be chosen for four more Wallaby tours - to New Zealand in 1958 and 1962, to South Africa in 1961, and to the British Isles, France and North America in 1966-67. Aside from the two major Wallaby tours there were several other major highlights of Lenehan’s Test career.

In 1962 he became the 48th Wallaby to captain Australia in a Test match. As far as victories are concerned, the 1965 2-0 home series win against South Africa and the Wallabies first ever defeat of Wales in 1966 rank highly.



Lenehan won his first Test cap at inside centre alongside Jack Potts in the 3-9 loss to Wales at Cardiff Arms Park. He missed the Ireland international due to a left thigh muscle injury but returned to play in the centres in the final three Tests against England, Scotland and France.


Lenehan started all three home Tests against the Maori, the first at inside centre and the final two at fullback after Terry Curley withdrew due to strained shoulder muscles. He toured New Zealand but only played in two matches, and none of the Tests, after he aggravated a leg injury against Southland.


Lenehan played fullback in both home loss to the British Lions.


The Wallabies did not play any Test rugby in 1960.


He missed the home series against Fiji but toured to South Africa and started both Tests at fullback. Lenehan also played in the 8-15 loss to France at the S.C.G.


Lenehan was selected to captain Australia from fullback in the 1st Test against New Zealand but withdrew due to a knee injury. He returned, as captain, for the 2nd Test, 5-14 loss in Sydney. Lenehan then toured New Zealand where he played fullback in all three Tests. He scored his first Test try in the 3rd Test, 8-16 loss at Eden Park.


He missed the one-off Test against England due to injury but was selected for the Wallaby tour to South Africa despite concerns relating to his fitness. Unfortunately Lenehan was ruled out of the tour after he injured his left knee cartilage against a Western Australia XV in Perth.


Lenehan was capped at fullback in both home Test wins against South Africa.


On the Fifth Wallabies tour, Lenehan started all five Tests against Wales, Scotland, England, Ireland and France.


In his final season of international rugby he played fullback in the 5-11 loss to Ireland at the S.C.G.

James Kenneth Lenehan