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‘Without peer’: What makes Simon Poidevin one of my favourite Wallabies

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After recently reading about Anthony Kiedis, Stevie Nicks and Bruce Dickinson, there was little controversy in comparison with the research for Simon Poidevin. But that is often the case when comparing rock stars to sportsmen, an exception being Andre Agassi, who was probably the rock star of the tennis world.

The only blemish on a stellar rugby and corporate career was when Poidevin was banned from providing financial services after he dropped his battle with the corporate regulator over alleged share market manipulation. Sports fans possibly want their heroes to be as squeaky clean as possible, whereas the opposite applies to rock stars.

Poidevin’s only other move to raise eyebrows was his change in career paths from financial services to being the Australia and New Zealand president of health and wellbeing platform Total Brain.

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Sportsmen may not provide us with literary excitement, but they do entertain in other ways. Simon Poidevin is one of Australia’s great rugby players and will be remembered for the ‘triple treat’ – along with David Campese, Nick Farr-Jones and Michael Lynagh, he’s one of only four Wallabies to have won a Rugby World Cup, a grand slam and a series in New Zealand against the mighty All Blacks.

If you are comparing achievements, it’s hard to beat those three. Poidevin also captained the Wallabies on four occasions – he wanted more, but that didn’t eventuate due to others preferred, including Farr-Jones and Andrew Slack. He was a man who made his own decisions, retiring in 1988 and then coming out of retirement 42 days later to play in the Bledisloe series. He made himself unavailable for the 1990 tour of New Zealand but returned to the team for the 1991 season.

There was one piece of information that would have made for stunning news had it eventuated. After the World XV matches in 1986 the Cavaliers (All Blacks) were on their way to South Africa. There was speculation Jock Hobbs may have had to withdraw from the squad, which led to Andy Haden and Murray Mexted asking Simon Poidevin if he wanted to tour. Unfortunately – or fortunately – Hobbs was able to tour, so Poidevin missed out.

(Photo by Barry Batchelor – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

Poidevin reflected in his biography For Love Not Money that, “What an experience it would have been! I chuckled a few times imagining myself not just playing alongside four or five All Blacks but being one-out in the whole All Black team. Alas, the invitation never came.”

Simon Paul Poidevin was born in 1958, a country boy from Goulburn NSW. Upon finishing school, he joined the Goulburn Rugby Club, from where he left for Sydney and eventually the Randwick Club. After representative appearances Poidevin made his Test debut against Fiji in 1980.

After the series win against the All Blacks in 1986 he described the win as “more satisfying and even greater than the grand slam, the high point of his career” (prior to the 1991 Rugby World Cup). Poidevin went on to play 59 Tests for his country, which was a record at the time.

“For his commitment, competitiveness, discipline, will to win and determination to perfect skills, Poidevin is without peer in modern rugby.” Alan Jones.

Simon Poidevin was a fitness fanatic who took great pride in playing for his country. He relished the opportunities to play against the All Blacks and never took a backwards step against formidable foes such as Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford and Andy Haden. A bone-crunching tackle by Englishman Micky Skinner in the 1991 World Cup led to Poidevin replying, “Do your bloody best pal”.

He was a fair player but was very strong and uncompromising with a determined attitude.

Peter Jenkins wrote in Wallaby Gold: The History of Australian Test Rugby that, “There was an aura about the flanker, a respect for how he approached the game, the passion he injected and the pride with which he wore the jumper.”

I will always remember the absolute respect New Zealand supporters had for Poidevin and his unwillingness to back down. He was a player to be feared. He mightn’t have been as exciting as a rock star, but he was a mighty fine rugby player.

Simon Poidevin, another favourite Wallaby.

 

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