Kenneth James Wright
- 579Wallaby Number
Ken Wright was a brilliant teenage prodigy who represented his country in the key fly half position aged just 19. Wright was a quicksilver, attacking wizard who possessed dazzling acceleration and finesse at close quarters. He developed his alarming speed off the mark on the beach with the Coogee Surf Club where he won numerous State and National titles. Wright had one of the most devastating side steps to ever grace an Australian rugby field, a sound kicking game and an excellent strategic understanding of attacking backline play.
He attended Marcellin College in Sydney’s east and from there was one of the leading lights in the crack Australian Schools team which toured the U.K. in 1973/74. It did not take national selectors long to recognise his glaring talents and he played his first senior representative rugby after just four first grade games. In 1975 he sealed Sydney’s stunning 14-10 win over England with a brilliant individual try and eleven days later made his Test debut at the S.C.G.
He toured with the Sixth Wallabies to Britain in 1975/76 and in late 1976 was included in the short tour to France and Italy.
In 1978 Wright played in three memorable Tests against the All Blacks. In the first Test loss in Christchurch, and with Paul McLean out injured, Wright assumed the kicking duties but narrowly missing a last-minute, 35 metre penalty attempt and New Zealand hung on for a narrow 13-12 win. In the third Test Tony Melrose came in at No.10 and Wright was shifted out one spot to inside centre.
From No.12 Wright created outright havoc in the All Black defence. He played a vital role in four of the five tries, as well as kicking a penalty and a conversion. Most memorable was a ‘scorcher’ of a right foot sidestep near halfway that completely bamboozled the defence and led directly to Cornelsen’s third try. When he returned to Australia, Wright switched codes to play rugby league with Eastern Suburbs.
Ken Wright played nine Tests for Australian in a four-year representative career.
Represented Australian Schools on their tour of the U.K.
Wright won his first Test cap at fly half outside John Hipwell in the 16-9 victory over England in Sydney. He retained his spot for the 2nd Test 30-21 win at Ballymore. Wright carried an ankle injury into the 1st Test against Japan at the S.C.G., yet still scored his first Test try, and Paul McLean assumed the No.10 jersey for the 2nd Test win in Brisbane.
Wright did not play in any of the Home Nations’ Tests on the tour of Britain but started at fly half in the 24-12 win over the U.S.A. in Anaheim.
Wright missed the home series against Fiji due to a broken wrist but played outside centre alongside Geoff Shaw in both away Tests against France at the end of the year.
The Wallabies did not play a Test match in 1977.
He was named on the bench but was uncapped in the two Test home series win over Wales. Wright toured New Zealand where he played the first two Tests at fly half with John Hipwell and the 3rd at inside centre alongside Bill McKid. Represented Australia at the Hong Kong 7s.