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Stan Pilecki was one of the toughest, most irrepressible characters ever to have graced a rugby field. The great difficulty in summarising both his life and rugby career is to separate the myth from the reality. Pilecki was a man universally beloved. Much had to do with his own personality - honest and unpretentious - but also with the way he played. He epitomised the average player, though he was obviously more than that. He was unspectacular, a vital cog in the engine room, unsung and unheralded. He was the stoker, the toiler, the labourer, the man who dirtied his hands while the backs pranced and danced. To many he represented the rock on which the very game was built.
As a footballer he was sheer guts and resolve. His technique as a prop and his levels of fitness were developed through sheer obstinance and a complete denial of the laws of mechanics and principles of exercise physiology.
Pilecki was a prolific smoker, a poor sleeper, a renowned snorer and the toughest of touring roommates. Pilecki was the salt of the earth, the best kind of person.
Born in Augustdorf, Germany in 1947 it was a tough ask to survive as a Pole in post‑war Germany so his family migrated to Queensland when he was three years of age. Pilecki attended Marist Brothers College, Rosalie and played his rugby for Wests.
He made his debut for Queensland in 1970 against Mid-Canterbury but then waited eight long years for a first Test cap, one he eventually won against Wales - the Five Nations, Grand Slam champions.
Pilecki, at 31, was the oldest Wallaby in 21 years to make a Test debut. One notable career highlight came the following year when he joined Peter Horton and Chris Handy in the front row for the 12-6 win over New Zealand that secured the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in 30 years.
In 1984, Pilecki was selected for the Eighth Wallabies’ Grand Slam’ tour and while he did not play in the Tests he proved himself a real team man, a veritable father figure among the Wallaby contingent. Sadly Pilecki was the first member of that Grand Slam team to pass away. Rugby Australia president Tony Shaw said, "we've lost one, if not the greatest, characters of our sport."
Stan Pilecki played 18 Tests for Australia in a six-year international career.
Pilecki won his first Test cap at prop alongside Peter Horton and Steve Finnane in the 1st Test, 18-8 victory over Wales in Brisbane. That front row was retained for the 2nd Test, 19-17 win in Sydney. He toured to New Zealand and was capped in both the 1st and 2nd Tests in combination with Horton and John Meadows.
He started all five Tests, the first two with Bill Ross and Meadows in the home series against Ireland and the next two with Horton and Chris Handy for the one-off 12-6 Bledisloe Cup triumph at the S.C.G. as well as the 1st away Test against Argentina. Bill Ross came in for Horton in the 2nd Test, 17-12 victory in Buenos Aires.
Pilecki combined with Ross and Tony D’Arcy for the 22-9 win over Fiji in Suva. He then partnered Ross and Handy for the 1st and 2nd Tests of the Bledisloe Cup series.
He was selected to tour with the Seventh Wallabies to Britain however he did not play in any of the four internationals. Pilecki won caps in each of the home Tests against Scotland. 1983Pilecki won his final four caps against the U.S.A (1), France (2) and New Zealand (1).