Kenneth Victor McMullen
- 480Wallaby Number
Ken McMullen was a talented and tigerish halfback who had the misfortunate for his career to coincide with that of Ken Catchpole, one of the all-time greats. With his fiery red hair and a penchant for sharp darts around the fringes, McMullen genuinely threatened Catchpole and at one point it was seriously considered that McMullen be shifted to fly half in order to accommodate the talented pair in the same side. McMullen was also a more than handy cricketer who played for Country against touring West Indian and England teams.
Born and raised in Wagga, McMullen had played rugby league as a young boy. He first came to prominence in rugby with the New South Wales Country team that toured New Zealand in 1960. His first international match, for Southern Zones against Fiji in 1961, saw his team claim a surprise 16-14 victory that helped keep his name in front of the selectors.
In 1962 he debuted and starred for New South Wales when they beat New Zealand 12-11 at the Sydney Sports Ground. That effort saw him picked as a reserve for the second Test in Sydney and in the squad for the return series, in New Zealand, two months later. McMullen scored two tries in his first match against Poverty Bay and followed with two timely dropped goals in the win over Counties. With Catchpole overlooked, McMullen was called up for his Test debut in Wellington.
McMullen also toured to South Africa in 1963 where his running game was highly effective and a several of his tries were match-winners. McMullen also proved a handy occasional goal-kicker. Upon his return to Australia McMullen switched codes to play rugby league for Eastern Suburbs.
He is well remembered around the Riverina region, where a Ken McMullen junior development trust helps all sport for youngsters, the local senior club champion receives the McMullen Cup, and the best on ground in the grand final is awarded the Ken McMullen Medal.
McMullen won his first test cap alongside fellow debutant Phil Hawthorne in the 9-9, 1st Test draw with New Zealand at Athletic Park. When Catchpole was ruled out of the final Test because of a badly bruised hip, McMullen earned a second cap, also in combination with Hawthorne in the 8-16 loss at Eden Park
McMullen teamed up with Hawthorne in the 18-9 victory over England at the Sydney Sports Ground where it was written that he was “one of the stars”. He toured South Africa and won his final cap inside Hawthorne in the 3-14, 1st Test loss at Loftus Versfeld.