Maxwell Clarke White
- 276Wallaby Number
Max White was a powerfully built and fiery middle-row / back-row forward who performed with great distinction on Australia’s first ever tour to South Africa when thrust into the unfamiliar loose-head prop position against the toughest scrummagers in world rugby. The son of real estate magnate Ray White, Max was born in Toowoomba and educated at The Southport School. In 1929 he joined the YMCA club in Brisbane and so impressive were his early performance that he was selected alongside fellow future Wallaby Harry Hamalainen for Queensland's first match since the northern union disbanded in 1919.
The following year White continued to press his claims for national selection when chosen for both Queensland and an Australian XV against the British Lions however ‘Huck’ Finlay and Geoff Storey were preferred as locks for the one-off international. Not to be denied, White won selection for the 1931 Wallaby tour to New Zealand where he formed a strong second row partnership with Bruce Judd, played in seven of the ten tour matches and made his Test debut against the Maori at Palmerston North.
White’s versatility was on show in 1932 when he started the opening two Tests at home to New Zealand as the No.8. However, along with Tom Lawton and Sid King he was one of several big-name casualties from the second Test debacle in Brisbane and ‘Weary’ Dunlop came in to replace him for the final Test in Sydney. The following year White started at lock in five of the first seven uncapped matches on the tour to South Africa. However the Wallaby scrum had consistently buckled under the enormous pressure from opposing packs and as a consequence the selectors decided they needed more weight up front.
Accordingly White was moved to loose-head prop for the key match against Northern Province who boasted a formidable pack that included Ferdie Bergh and Springbok captain, Phil Nel. Australia lost 8-16 however the White experiment was deemed a success and he remained at loose-head for 12 of the remaining 16 matches, including all five Tests. In 1934 White, without rhyme or reason, was a shock omission from Queensland’s squad for the third interstate match and by early the following season he had moved into an assistant coaching role with YMCA. When the club merged with Southern Districts in 1948 he became its vice-president.
White won his first Test cap at lock, in partnership with Bruce Judd, in the 14-3 victory over the Maori at Showgrounds Oval. Although he did not know it at the time this match was only given Test status by the ARU in 1986. White and Judd were retained for the 13-20 loss to New Zealand at Eden Park.
White started at No.8, in a back-row that included Owen Bridle and Jim Clark, in the opening two Tests of the home series against New Zealand.
White, at loose-head prop, played in the front-row alongside Eddie Bonis and Bill Cerutti in all five away Tests against South Africa.