Robert Alexander McLean
- 535Wallaby Number
Bob McLean was a very athletic backrower who played with pace and tenacity. A strong attacker and vigorous defender, McLean retired after one great season with the Wallabies in order to concentrate on his science and diploma of education studies.
Born in Sydney, McLean was educated at both Balgowlah High School and Manly Boys High School, where he played in the 1966 winning Waratah Shield side. He tried various positions at schoolboy level before he settled at flanker for the University of Sydney.
McLean made his First Grade debut in 1967, played in the 1968 Premiership team, and then starred in the 1970 Grand Final victory. He made his representative debut for Sydney against Lautoka at North Sydney Oval in 1968 but was not selected in either of the following two seasons.
In 1971, McLean found his way back into the Sydney side against the Springboks and in a mighty game went down 12-21 despite not conceding a try. That performance earned McLean a Test debut in Sydney.
Jim Webster wrote that McLean offered ‘very good support’ to captain Greg Davis and was here ‘to stay’. He scored the ‘try of the day’ after he trailed through a high Garryowen from fullback Arthur McGill and was on hand to claim the tap back from McGill and crash over for the try.
Later in the year, McLean was selected for his first Wallaby tour, to France and North America. Amazingly, nine years later, and in one of the great comebacks, McLean made his New South Wales debut against Queensland.
Bob McLean played five Tests for Australia in his one season of international rugby.
McLean won his first Test cap at No.8 alongside captain Greg Davis and Peter Sullivan in the 11-19 loss to South Africa in at the S.C.G. He scored his first Test try in that loss to become the 45th Wallaby to score a try on debut. That backrow trio played in each of the final two Tests and also combined for the two away Tests against France at the end of the season.