John Bernard Tyson Doneley
John (‘Bernie') Doneley was a graduate of Nudgee College, a great nursery of rugby talent, similar to St. Joseph’s in Sydney. He played for GPS in the Brisbane competition.
His year of triumph was in 1933 when, without any international experience, he was selected in the Australian tour of South Africa. At the time he was 23 years of age, was 6 foot in height in height and was a compact and solid 196 pounds. That team is one of the most revered in Australian rugby history: Alec Ross, Frank McPhillips, Bill Warlow, ‘Mick’ Grace, Doug McLean, Jack Kelaher, Jack Young, Gordon Sturtridge, Dave Cowper, Jack Steggall, Ron Biilman, Cliff Campbell, Syd Malcolm, Gordon Bennett, Owen Bridle, John Doneley, Graham Cooke, Wal Mackney, John Ritter, ‘Bimbo’ White, Aub Hodgson, ‘Dinny’ Love, Jimmy Clark, Geoff Bland, Bob Loudon, Max White, Mark Morton, Bill Cerutti and Eddie Bonis.
There were 23 matches on tour, and Doneley played in only eight of them. They were: Natal (won 14-3), Western Transvaal (won 20-3), Reef and Country (lost 6-13), Pretoria (lost 8-13), Rhodesia (won 24-5), North East Districts ( won 31-11), South West Districts (won 21-14) and Western Province Universities (drew 3-3).
A backrower, it was simply a case of there being better players in his position, such as Loudon, Bridle and Hodgson. But he had one ace up his sleeve, and that was his kicking. In his eight games, he kicked four penalty goals and ten conversions.
After the third Test, Diehm, in Giants in Green and Gold, wrote: ‘For their part, the Wallabies chose a squad of nineteen players, adding Ross [who had been injured], Malcolm, Bland, Mackney and Doneley and omitting Bennett. Serious consideration was given to playing Doneley to improve the goal kicking, which had been woeful whenever the big Queenslander was not playing. They decided, however, that Geoff Bland should replace the injured Cooke and Malcolm. So Doneley came close to playing in a Test, but this was never to happen, though he kept playing for a number of years.'
In 1934 he played for Queensland against New Zealand, the locals going down 14 to 31 and Doneley kicking a conversion and a penalty goal. He was also in the Australian XV against them, losing 6 to 11 and kicking two penalty goals.
His last appearance was for Queensland against the visiting Maori team in 1935. Doneley kicked three conversions in the 39 to 22 victory. He was also in the return match, which the Maori won by 15 to 13, and he kicked two conversions and a penalty goal.
An honest performer and a leading kicker, Bernie Doneley was fated never to play in a Test. He did, however, play in eight non-Test Australian representative games, scoring 32 points in them.