Laurence Wilfred Johnson
‘Larry’ Johnson was a winger and occasional centre who played for Navy in the Melbourne competition, but whose career was limited because of the demands of the services. He first appeared in the higher representative scene when he played for the United Services against Fiji as the North Sydney Oval in 1952. It appeared as if he was a centre in the match, won by the Fijians 33 to 14.
The famous ‘Tarakan ‘Jack Baxter, also a Navy representative, was also on the Services team, and he had been a Wallaby since 1949. A highly decorated fighter pilot, 26- year- old John Meyers, played five-eighth.
This and other performances for Victoria must have impressed, as he was selected to tour New Zealand with Australia, his only such representation. At the time he was 24 -years -of -age, 5 foot 10 inches and 12 stone 10 pounds.
It was a 10-match tour, captained by John Solomon. Johnson did not get much of a look in on the tour, playing in only three of the games, against King Country (16-6), Manawatu (also 16-6) and Nelson (29-12).
He could claim for the rest of his life that he played for Australia and was never in a losing match. Few could match that. The team did very well, winning eight matches and losing two. The players in his first game for Australia, though not a Test, were: Herb Barker, Eddie Stapleton, John O’Neill, Jim Phipps, Larry Johnson, ‘Spanner’ Brown, Cyril Burke, Tony Miller, Col Windon, Jack Carroll, Alan Cameron (capt.), Keith Cross, Bob Davidson, Jim Walsh, and Col Forbes. The competition for the Test wing position was intense, with two of Australian finest -ever, Garth Jones and Eddie Stapleton on hand, and O’Neill was a strong player as well.
It was not the end of his representative career, as he represented Victoria against Fiji in 1954 (12 to 69), and he was the Australian Combined Services fullback against them (16-27) and in 1957, he represented Victoria as a centre against the All Blacks (3-25), and re-appeared in 1959 as fullback against the British Isles (18-53). So he served his State for a long period of time. He did not play a Test for Australia, but did play three times for his country.