Richard Norman Thornett
- 445Wallaby Number
Dick Thornett, the youngest of the three famous Thornett brothers, was arguably the most decorated. Between them, the Thornett trio provided their country with two rugby union internationals, two league internationals and a water polo Olympian. Incredibly, Dick represented Australia in all three sports.
Born in Sydney and educated at Randwick Boys’ High School, Dick first won international honours at water polo, in which he was a member of the Australian team at the 1960 Rome Olympics.
He did have a reputation as a very accomplished ball-player in both rugby codes, able to offload from the tightest situation, and there is little doubt that some of these deft skills - rare in a big man at any time - were developed in the rough-house water polo pool. At 104kg, Dick was a feared runner with the ball and was renowned for his strength in rucking and mauling. He had exceptional mobility and was a prodigious punt kicker.
Within a year of his switch to rugby, Dick had progressed from club through State to international ranks, beginning a 15-month career that saw him play 11 consecutive Tests. Two weeks after his debut for New South Wales, Dick was selected to make his Test debut against Fiji in Brisbane.
He went on to tour both South Africa and then New Zealand, and partner his brother John in six internationals. After the 1962 season he switched codes to play rugby league for the Parramatta Eels and in his first year was selected in the Kangaroos.
Dick Thornett played 11 rugby Tests for Australia in a two-year international career.
Thornett won his first Test cap at lock alongside Graeme Macdougall in the 1st Test, 24-6 victory over Fiji at the Exhibition Ground. He scored his first Test try in that match to become the 38th Wallaby to score a try on debut. Dick was shifted to No.8 in combination with Ted Heinrich and Terry Reid for the final two Tests of the Fijian series. Thornett was back at lock with Macdougall for the 1st Test, 3-24 loss to South Africa in Johannesburg before he was joined by brother John for the 2nd Test, 11-23 defeat at Port Elizabeth. Dick and John partnered as locks in the 8-15 loss to France at the S.C.G.
Thornett started at No.8 in the 1st Test, 6-20 loss to New Zealand in Brisbane. He moved back to lock alongside his brother for the 2nd Test in Sydney and for all three away Tests on the return tour to New Zealand.