Jason Sidney Little
- 683Wallaby Number
Jason Little was one of Australia’s greatest ever centres and one of the premier No.13s in world rugby. He was an exceptionally gifted athlete, a natural with remarkable rhythm, effortless elegance and a ghost-like running style that deceived many a defender.
Born in the Darling Downs, Little was educated at Toowoomba Grammar School where he proved to be a quite phenomenal all-round student sportsman. In 1986, he played in the 1st XI which won the Great Public Schools cricket premiership for the first time in 50 years. The following year he captained the 1st XI to a second GPS premiership, was selected as vice-captain of the Queensland Secondary Schoolboys’ XI, and was a member of the Queensland U19 XI. That same year he captained the 1st XV which finished equal second, the TGS’s best rugby result since 1956. He also represented Australia at a Junior Athletics Championship in the U.S.A.
At 17 he played grade rugby for Brisbane’s Southern Districts, at 18 he started his first match for Queensland and just a couple of months after he turned 19 he made his Test debut against France in Strasbourg. He will long be remembered for one moment of brilliance in 1994 that set Australia on its way to reclaiming the Bledisloe Cup. Australia kicked-off, All Black lock Mark Cooksley failed to secure the ball and it was tidied up by Ewen McKenzie. George Gregan quickly cleared to fly half David Knox who hoisted a high Garryowen from 10 metres outside the quarterline. Little raced through and without taking his eyes from the ball soared above fullback Shane Howarth to claim the kick and score a dramatic try after just fifteen seconds of the Test.
Little went on to build one of the more enviable rugby CVs of all-time. He played in three Rugby World Cups, was twice a World Champion, won the Bledisloe Cup in 1992, ‘94 and ‘98, retained it in 1999 and 2000, and secured a first Tri Nations title in 2000. Jason Little played 75 Tests for Australia in a decorated 11-year international career.
Represented Australian U17s when they defeated New Zealand U17 by 16-3.
Represented the AIS Australian U21s against New Zealand Colts at Eden Park. Little won his first Test cap as the starting outside centre alongside Tim Horan in the 1st Test, 32-15 victory over France in Strasbourg. A week later he picked up a second cap in the 2nd Test, 19-25 defeat at Lille.
Little started at No.13 in each of the opening four Tests but broke his ankle in 67-9 defeat of the United States at Ballymore to rule him out of the subsequent tour of New Zealand. He scored his first Test try in the 2nd Test, 48-31 victory over France in Brisbane. Represented Australia at the Hong Kong 7s.
He played in nine of the Wallabies’ 10 Tests and won selection to his first Rugby World Cup. Little was rested for the 9-3 pool game win over Western Samoa in Pontypool, his place taken by Anthony Herbert. Represented Australia at the Hong Kong 7s.
Little missed the home series against Scotland due to a bout of glandular fever. He returned to play in each of the last six Tests, all at outside centre, against New Zealand (3), South Africa, Ireland and Wales. Represented Australia at the Hong Kong 7s.
Little was capped at No.13, outside Horan, in all eight internationals of the season. Represented Australia at the Sevens Rugby World Cup in Edinburgh and at the Hong Kong 7s.
Little tore his anterior cruciate and medial ligaments in the Super 10 final against Natal and subsequently missed both home series against Ireland and Italy. He recovered to play the final two Tests of the year against Western Samoa and New Zealand.
With Horan still rehabilitating from his own knee surgery, Little earned caps at inside centre in each of the two Tests against Argentina. He was selected to his second Rugby World Cup, started at No.12 in the tournament opener against South Africa and then shifted to outside centre when Horan returned. Little played in three of Australia’s four matches and maintained his spot for both Bledisloe Cup Tests.
Little did not play in the home series against Wales, the one-off Test against Canada or in the Tri Nations after he broke his collarbone. He went on the end-of-season tour to the U.K. and Europe and earned three caps against Italy as a replacement No.12, Ireland on the right wing, and Wales at outside centre.
Little started at No.13 in seven of the first eight Wallaby Tests but missed out on the tour to Argentina and the U.K. in order to undergo knee surgery.
Despite the fact that Dan Herbert was now entrenched at outside centre, Little played in 10 of Australia’s 13 internationals of which three caps were won as a replacement and seven in the No.14 jersey.
Little appeared in ten Tests, predominantly from the bench. He was selected to his third Rugby World Cup and played in all six matches. In the 55-19 pool match victory over U.S.A in Limerick he became the 69th Wallaby to captain his country.
In his eleventh year of international rugby Little played seven Tests, the final three as the run-on inside centre as Australia retained the Bledisloe Cup and won a first Tri Nations title. He retired then and there in Durban on what was his 30th birthday. When he scored a try in the 44-34, 1st Test win over South Africa in Melbourne he became the eleventh Australian to score 100 career Test match points