Llewellyn Stanley Lewis
- 291Wallaby Number
‘Wally’ Lewis was a brilliant, attacking inside back whose Test career was blighted by injury and ended by conflict. A useful goal kicker and an expert dropped goal exponent, Lewis was extremely elusive. His excellent footwork frequently bamboozled the best defences and quite often his own teammates as well. Cyril Towers said of Lewis: “He used to run around like a little jack rabbit. He used to jump around all over the place and you couldn’t follow him.” Born in Brisbane, Lewis attended the Ithaca Creek State School where he played rugby league.
In 1926 he was chosen to represent Queensland schools against a New South Wales side that included his fellow future Wallaby Max Carpenter. Lewis completed his education at Brisbane State High and went on to play club rugby with Combined High School Boys. In 1931 he debuted for Queensland against Newcastle to begin a long and storied career in the maroon jersey. From that debut Lewis played 36 of Queensland 47 matches through to the end of the 1939 season. He moved to GPS Old Boys in 1932 and played in the Wallaby selection trials for the 1933 tour of South Africa.
Lewis made the cut for the final trial match, starting at fly half for The Rest v. New South Wales however the Waratah pair of Ron Biilmann and Cliff Campbell were preferred for the tour. A year later Lewis was a more polished footballer and he convincingly outplayed both Campbell and Biilmann to win to Test debut against New Zealand in Sydney. Australia won 25-11 and with the three-all draw in second matches, claimed the Bledisloe Cup for the first time. “Because we’d won the Cup, they offered us a framed team photograph or an Australian honour cap,” Lewis recalled. “We said ‘bugger the photo, let’s have the cap’.”
It was the first time that Australian honour caps had been awarded since 1914. Australia did not play a single Test match in 1935 and as such the following year’s tour to New Zealand took on even greater importance. Lewis made the trip but tore a thigh muscle in the third match, against Hawkes Bay, and missed the first Test. In 1937 Lewis, along with most of his fellow Queenslanders were overlooked for the home series against South Africa after New South Wales stunned the Springboks by 17-6, and five tries to one, a week ahead of the first Test.
A year later Lewis fought his way back into the side against New Zealand before yet another leg injury forced him to withdraw, after having been selected, from the final two Tests of that series. Undaunted he returned in 1939, played well when selected at fly half for the Rest v. Australia trial and justifiably won a spot in the Second Wallaby tour to Great Britain. Unfortunately, no sooner had the team reached Britain than war was declared. Upon his return to Australia Lewis enlisted in the Services and continued to play for GPS. Early in the 1940 season he injured his knee in a club match against New Farm and subsequently retired from football. ‘Wally’ Lewis played four Tests for Australia in a five-year international career.
Lewis won his first Test cap at fly half, outside of Syd Malcolm, in the 1st Test, 25-11 victory over New Zealand at the S.C.G. The two halves were retained for the 2nd Test, 3-3 draw which saw Australia claim their first ever Bledisloe Cup series.
The Wallabies did not play a Test match in 1935.
He earned a single cap in the 2nd Test, 13-38 defeat to New Zealand at Dunedin. Lewis’ torn thigh muscle ruled him out of contention for the 31-6 win over the Maori at Palmerston North, a match that some 50 years later was granted Test status by the ARU.
Lewis and ‘Dooney’ Hayes were paired in the centres for the 1st Test, 9-24 defeat to New Zealand at the S.C.G.