Stephen Hazelton Slater
- 115Wallaby Number
Stephen Slater was a prop, who played in Sydney for Newtown, amassing some 90 matches with them, and 12 for Petersham. During his career he played seven games for his State, but he only achieved one international appearance. This was against the 1910 New Zealand team, captained by Fred Roberts. Some of the NZ stars were Simon Mynott and Fred Roberts, both on their third tour of Australia, Frank Mitchinson, ‘Bolla’ Francis, ‘Ranji’ Wilson and Joe O’Leary This was the only New Zealand team picked between 1908 and 1913. These were tremulous times for rugby union, as the previous year, 1909, fourteen Wallabies from the triumphant 1908 tour had defected to rugby league.
The union code immediately suffered with this body blow, spectators switching their interest to rugby league. As well as New Zealand, the Maori came in 1910, as did the American Universities team. Competing for interest was the first Great Britain rugby league team. The NSW and Australian frontrow were set at this time, with Jimmy Clarken, Tom Griffin and Harold George, the first two teammates at Glebe and George playing for Eastern Suburbs. Griffin, a cagey player, would play 39 matches for Australia (six Tests); George would play 28 matches (eight Tests); and hooker Tom Griffin would play 36 matches (six Tests). Their careers were intertwined.
Slater’s one and only opportunity came in the third Test against New Zealand. Up to this point, for NSW and Australia, the above triumvirate appeared in all the matches. However Griffin was injured and Stephen Slater came into the front row, Clarken moved to hooker and George moved into Clarken’s position. The Australian team, for Slater’s sole Test, was Larry Dwyer, Bert Gilbert, Dinny Campbell, Ward Prentice, Alf Dunbar, Charlie Hodgens, Fred Wood, Norm Row, Syd Middleton (capt.), Robert Stuart, Leo Reynolds, Paddy Murphy, George, Clarken and Slater. It was a loss by 13 to 28. Three of this team would turn professional, Bert Gilbert, Dinny Campbell and Bob Stuart. An outstanding and dependable club player, Slater would have his one moment of rugby glory in 1910.