David Campese
David Campese SMP Images / Bruce Palme

Nation's former rugby greats gain 'Invincible' status

AUSTRALIAN rugby has its first group of 'Invincibles' with Colin Windon, Mark Ella, Ken Catchpole and David Campese yesterday inducted at a ceremony in Sydney.

The recognition is limited to players who have been retired from the game for at least five years, and is open to all players since the Second World War.

The quartet was chosen by a 12-man selection panel which included a group of long-time rugby journalists and commentators, as well as former Wallabies coaches Alan Jones, Bob Dwyer and Rod Macqueen, and former captains Andrew Slack and Sir Nicholas Shehadie.

Organisers hope the award, created by Inside Rugby magazine, becomes as recognised as rugby league's Immortals, awarded by Rugby League Week.

Windon played 20 Tests between 1946 and 1952, the centre-turned-backrower famously scoring a try in each of three Tests against the Maoris and then two against New Zealand in 1949.

He was named by New Zealand Rugby Almanac as one of the world's top five players in 1946, and remained Australia's leading Test try-scorer, with 11, for more than 30 years until his record was passed by Brendan Moon in the 1980s.

Windon was inducted into Australian Rugby's Hall of Fame on 2005 with Catchpole who played 27 Tests between 1961 and 1968.

The scrum-half was recognised by many as the best player in his position in the world before having his career cut short at just 28 when his hamstring was torn off the bone in a tackle by All Black Colin Meads.

Ella played 25 Tests between 1980 and 1984, scoring a try in each Test of the 1984 Grand Slam tour before retiring aged just 25.

He is still considered among the best fly-halves to play the game, with many players - team-mates and opponents alike - describing him as the best they ever saw.

Campese, a star of Australia's Rugby World Cup victory in 1991, played 101 Tests over 15 seasons from 1982 to 1996, scoring 64 tries.

A team-mate of Ella on the 1984 Grand Slam tour, Campese among the third group of Hall of Fame inductees in 2007.

The next two Invincibles are scheduled to be inducted next year to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Grand Slam Tour.

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