Thomas Kevin Bourke
- 349Wallaby Number
Kev Bourke was a sure and deadly tackling centre who had the good fortune to win selection on the Third Wallabies tour to the U.K. and Europe in spite of injury. Born in Kingaroy, Bourke was educated at Downlands College where he distinguished himself both on the sporting field and as a scholar. After school Bourke joined Brothers where he played halfback in the 1940 First Grade side and within a year represented both Brisbane and made his debut for Queensland, against a Combined Services side. In August, 1942 Bourke enlisted in the Radar Branch of the Royal Australian Air Force. He progressed to a Pilot Officer then Flying Officer and finally Flight Lieutenant before he was discharged in 1946.
Bourke returned to Brothers and the club celebrated victory with the first post war premiership. The following year Bourke gave a ‘masterly’ and ‘brilliant’ display at fly half for Brisbane in their intercity clash with Toowoomba. He followed that with a ‘destructive tackling’ performance in the second interstate match, won by Queensland 28-25. Unfortunately Bourke injured his shoulder in the third match of that series and although selected for the first Test against the All Blacks was forced to withdraw from the team on medical advice. Bourke then lined up for Queensland against the tourists and was ‘magnificent’ ‘Time after time his crashing tackles broke up promising back-line moves by the Kiwis. In attack he also was not found wanting. He capped a very successful game by scoring a try in the closing stages of the game.’ That performance earned him a second shot at a Test debut, this time in Sydney. With about 15 minutes left to play Bourke dumped All Blacks' skipper, Fred Allen, on the hard patch in the SCG centre and in doing so smashed his own right collarbone.
Despite the injury Bourke was chosen for the Third Wallaby tour but was forced to wait three weeks before his selection was confirmed. Once recovered Bourke played 16 matches on tour however Max Howell and Alan Walker were preferred as Trevor Allan’s inside centre partner for the Tests. In 1949 Bourke broke a bone in his right ankle playing for Brisbane against Toowoomba on the concrete- like Toowoomba ShowGround and as a result was unavailable for the incoming Maori tour and the subsequent series away to New Zealand. Two years later, and having already retired because he was “getting too old”, Bourke returned to Brothers under Joe French and won another First Grade premiership. Kev Bourke played one Test for Australia and will forever be Wallaby #349.
Bourke won his first Test cap at inside centre, in combination with Trevor Allan, when he started the 2nd Test, 14-27 loss to New Zealand at the S.C.G.