Russell Charles Sylvester Manning
- 508Wallaby Number
Russell Manning was a solidly built Queensland fullback who enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence in 1967. Renowned as a safe custodian under the highball, Manning was generally unflappable, possessed a prodigious touch finding boot and occasionally knocked over long-range dropped goals.
Born in Brisbane, Manning was educated at Brisbane Boys’ College where he excelled as a sportsman. In his final year Manning played both 1st XV rugby and 1st XI cricket.
Following his graduation, Manning studied Law and played his club rugby at the University of Queensland. At the provincial level Manning faced healthy competition for the fullback position from Peter Vincent, John Murphy and David Clark before his first opportunity to play representative rugby came in 1965 when selected in the Queensland squad to face New South Wales at Normanby Oval. Manning was the fullback in the two interstate games played north of the border in 1966 but lost out to David Clark for the season’s biggest game, the tour match against the British Lions.
However,a year later Manning finally made the fullback position his own. In Queensland’s first game of the season, against Ireland at Lang Park, the Maroons lost three players to injury and unfortunately for the home side no replacements were allowed. Nonetheless Manning played the house down. He tackled strongly and used his boot to great effect with long, raking touch-finders in an impressive and most assured display. When the Australian selectors named Manning to make his Test debut later that same year against New Zealand there were howls of complaint south of the border given the quality of fullbacks that were overlooked particularly Jim Lenehan, Peter Ryan and Arthur McGill. Australia lost the match 9-29 but played the best part of 60 minutes with 14 fit men as Phil Smith had dislocated his shoulder in the first half.
Manning played two further matches for Queensland in 1968 before he retired to follow a professional career in the law.
Manning won his first Test cap at fullback in the 9-29 loss to New Zealand at Athletic Park.