John Michael O'Neill
- 395Wallaby Number
John O’Neill was a gifted athlete who juggled his rugby aspirations with the study of medicine at the University of Queensland. A brilliant utility back of rare ability, O’Neill played two Tests on the wing and another two at fullback however most critics of the day considered his best position to be fly half given his solid physique.
Born in Warwick, Queensland, O’Neill was educated at St Mary’s Christian Brothers’ College in Toowoomba before he finished his schooling at St. Joseph's Nudgee College. O’Neill announced his arrival on the representative scene with a bang when he scored two tries for Brisbane against the 1951 All Blacks. In that game he made many dangerous runs and showed that his club form, where he had been the best local player all season, was no flash in the pan.
The following year O’Neill was chosen for his first Wallaby tour, to New Zealand, where he made his Test debut in Christchurch. In 1953, O’Neill withdrew from pre-season training with Queensland and made himself unavailable for the second Wallaby tour to South Africa as he believed four months was too much time away from his medical studies. He was unavailable for the home series against Fiji in 1954 because he was on tour in New Zealand with the Australian Universities team.
The Springboks arrived for a two Test series in 1956 and O’Neill played at fullback in both Tests despite having started on the left wing for the tour match with Queensland. The following season Terry Curley took over the Wallaby custodian role for two seasons before Jim Lenehan dominated the position throughout the early 1960s.
John O’Neill played four Tests for Australia in a five-year, two season international career.
O’Neill won his first Test cap on the left wing in the 1st Test, 14-9 victory over New Zealand at Lancaster Park. He retained his position for the 2nd Test, 8-15 loss in Wellington.
O’Neill started at fullback in the two home losses to South Africa.