Jeffrey James McLean
- 541Wallaby Number
Jeff McLean was born into Australia’s greatest rugby dynasty. His grandfather Doug Snr. (Wallaby #54) played three Tests for Australia before he switched to rugby league and became a dual international. His uncle Doug Jnr. played 10 Tests for Australia from 1933-36 before he also became a dual international in rugby league. His uncle Jack was selected on the 1946 Wallaby tour to New Zealand but did not play a Test.
His uncle Bill (Wallaby #332) was selected for the Second Wallabies tour to Britain in 1939, arrived in England the day before war broke out, and was duly sent back home after the tour was cancelled.
Bill then captained the 1946 Wallabies to New Zealand, and in 1947-48 led the Third Wallabies on their tour to U.K. Jeff’s brother Paul (Wallaby #571) played 30 Tests and cousin Peter (Wallaby #596) played 16 Tests. Some dynasty indeed. Jeff was a lightning fast winger who became one of Australia’s most potent attacking players. Educated at Ipswich Christian Brothers College, McLean was an all-round sportsman who elected to concentrate on athletics with rugby a secondary preference.
He joined the Mayne Harriers Athletics Club where his progress was astonishing. Over the next four years he competed in top company over the 100 and 200 metres and ran a scorching 10.4 for the hundred to gain selection in the Queensland Athletics squad for the Commonwealth Games trials. His close friend in athletics was future Wallaby Peter Moore who convinced McLean to come to Brisbane and play club rugby at Brothers. They proved a devastating pair and not surprisingly drew the attention of representative selectors.
In 1969, McLean made his debut for Queensland against Fiji. The Springboks arrived in 1971 and McLean played a blinder for Queensland. He scored two sizzling tries, one a 70 metre effort, to more or less guarantee his Test debut in Brisbane. McLean became a near certain selection in the Australian side for the next three years.
In 1972 the Wallabies endured a tough tour of New Zealand. Nonetheless, McLean contributed 85 points, laced with nine tries, an effort that earned his inclusion in the New Zealand Rugby Almanac’s five players of the year.
The 1974 season brought great joy and even greater disappointment. In the first Bledisloe Cup Test, McLean played alongside his debutant brother Paul for the first time in Wallaby gold. Overlooked for the second Test Jeff was selected to play for Brisbane against Country at the flood-damaged Rugby Park in Rockhampton. The conditions were atrocious and in a normal back line movement Jeff found himself isolated and with his body awkwardly placed attempted a centring kick. He was tackled and as a result suffered a compound fracture of his leg. The exposed bone was subject to infectious conditions, resulted in major surgery and prolonged treatment, and sadly ended his rugby career.
Jeff McLean played 13 Tests for Australia in a four-year career.
McLean won his first Test cap on the left wing in the 2nd Test, 6-14 loss to South Africa. The three-quarter line of McLean, Geoff Shaw, Stephen Knight and John Cole was retained for the 3rd Test, 6-18 defeat in Sydney. He played in both away Tests against France.
McLean started on the left wing in all six Tests against France (2), New Zealand (3) and Fiji (1). He scored his first Test tries in the 17-30, 2nd Test loss to New Zealand at Lancaster Park.
McLean was not selected for the Test against Tonga but was on the left wing for the end-of-season internationals against Wales and England.
He won his final Test cap on the day his brother Paul made his debut in the 1st Test, 6-11 loss to New Zealand at the S.C.G.