John Patrick Ballesty
- 512Wallaby Number
John Ballesty was a solidly built, hard-tackling fly half who switched codes in the prime of his rugby union career.
An elusive runner with a versatile kicking game, Ballesty was yet another fly half in a long line of Wallaby fly halves to move to league. In fact Paul Gibbs and Rupert Rosenblum were the only two test capped Wallaby fly halves who did not switch across to league in the 13-year period from Phil Hawthorne’s debut in 1962 until the arrival of Paul McLean in 1974.
Born in Sydney, Ballesty was educated atSt. Patrick’s College, Strathfield before he earned a Diploma of Physical Education from Sydney Teachers' College.
Ballesty played his club rugby for Eastwood and from there played his first senior representative rugby in 1966, for Sydney against AustralianServices at Coogee Oval. The following year Ballesty made his debut for New South Wales against Queensland at Ballymore.
Hawthorne’s move to league in 1968 presented an opportunity for Ballesty and with an impressive performance in Sydney’s narrow 9-14 loss to New Zealand earned him a Test debut in Sydney. Later that season France arrived for a one-off Test and it was Ballesty's 63rd minute dropped goal that proved decisive in the 11-10 win, Australia’s first victory in almost two years. At the end of that season, Ballesty was chosen for his first Wallaby tour, to Ireland and France where he played in all five matches, including the two Tests.
In 1969 Ballesty went to South Africa and played two of the four Tests at fly half as the selectors appeared unable to settle on one definitive game plan. During that tour he was honoured with the captaincy in three uncapped matches, against Eastern Province at Port Elizabeth, Boland at Wellington, and North Western Cape at Upington.
Following his return home Ballesty switched codes to play rugby league with Eastern Suburbs.
John Ballesty played nine Tests for Australia in a two-year international career.
Ballesty won his first Test cap at fly half outside Ken Catch pole in the 1st Test, 11-27 loss to New Zealand at the S.C.G. A week later Ballesty partnered John Hipwell in the 2nd Test, 18-19 loss in Brisbane. The pair started in each of the next three Tests againstFrance, Ireland and Scotland.
Ballesty and Hipwell were the halves pairing for the 16-19 loss to Wales in Sydney, the 2nd Test, 9-16 loss to South Africa in Durban and the 4th Test, 8-19 defeat at Bloemfontein. Ballesty also earned one cap at inside centre alongside Barry Honan in the 3rd Test,3-11 loss at Cape Town.