Peter Donald Thompson
- 376Wallaby Number
In 1941 he joined the Royal Australian Naval Reserve as an Ordinary Seaman and was initially mobilised to HMAS Cerberus on the Mornington Peninsula. After five committed years Thompson demobilised in late 1946, returned to Queensland and joined the Kirra SLSC. On Boxing Day that year the alarm was sounded five times at Kirra when sharks six to 10 feet long were sighted close to the beach. Thompson and a fellow lifesaver then risked attack to help successfully save a man marooned on a surfoplane 100 yards from the shoreline. The following year he tried his hand at Australian Rules football, played for Western Districts and proved good enough to represent Queensland.
In 1948 Thompson joined many of his fellow surf lifesavers at the GPS rugby club where he immediately impressed at both fly half and centre. Amazingly, after just six matches, Thompson was selected as a reserve for Queensland in the third interstate match against New South Wales. When GPS teammate and fellow future Wallaby Allan Ware was forced off with a hip injury in the first half, Thompson came on to debut as his replacement, stole the show with two scintillating tries and led Queensland to a dramatic 24-15 win. A year later he was ruled out of consideration for the home series against the Maori after developing severe influenza following the May interstate games and as a consequence also missed selection for the New Zealand tour trials.
In 1950 Thompson’s ‘dazzling speed’ and ‘devastating’ tackling further enhanced his reputation in the matches against New South Wales. Despite his prominence during that series the selection of Thompson and big Victorian Ernie Hills at the expense of Arthur Tonkin, Don Lisle and Ralph Garner for the opening Test against the Lions was considered a ‘shock’. Thompson performed well enough with limited opportunity however the Australian selectors made three changes for the second Test one of which was Tonkin for Thompson. He only played club the following year and was in the GPS side which lost the premiership Grand final to Brothers. Peter Thompson played one Test for Australia and will always be Wallaby #376.
Thompson made his Test debut on the right wing in the 1st Test, 6-19 loss to the British Lions at the Brisbane Cricket Ground.