Graeme Langlands


Graeme Langlands

Infobox rugby league biography
playername = Graeme Langlands
fullname = Graeme Frank Langlands
nickname = Changa


caption =
country =
position = rlp|FB|CE
dateofbirth = birth date and age|1941|9|1|df=yes
placeofbirth = Wollongong
countryofbirth = Australia
height =
weight =
club1 = leagueicon|St. George Dragons|16 St. George Dragons
year1start = 1963
year1end = 1976
appearances1 = 227
tries1 = 86
goals1 = 648
fieldgoals1 = 0
points1 = 1554
teamA = leagueicon|Country|16 Country Firsts
yearAstart = 1962
yearAend =
appearancesA =
triesA =
goalsA =
fieldgoalsA =
pointsA =
teamB = leagueicon|New South Wales|16 New South Wales
yearBstart = 1962
yearBend = 1975
appearancesB = 36
triesB =
goalsB =
fieldgoalsB =
pointsB = 157
teamC = leagueicon|Australia|16 Australia
yearCstart = 1963
yearCend = 1975
appearancesC = 45
triesC =
goalsC =
fieldgoalsC =
pointsC = 206
coachteamA = leagueicon|Australia|16 Australia
coachyearAstart = 1972
coachyearAend = 1975
coachgamesA =
coachwin%A =
coachpremiershipsA =
source =

Graeme 'Changa' Langlands is an Australian former rugby league footballer and coach. He was a representative in the Australian national team on 45 occasions from 1963 to 1975 and captained his country in 15 Test matches and World Cup games. Langlands was the full-back and goal-kicker for the St. George Dragons in the latter half of their 11 year consecutive premiership-winning run from 1956 to 1966.

Born in Wollongong, New South Wales on 2 September, 1941, he represented Combined NSW High Schools from 1955 to 1957 and was playing 1st grade with the Wollongong Club in the Illawarra competition at age 18. He was selected in Country Firsts in 1962 and that same year made the first of a record 33 interstate matches for New South Wales over 14 seasons.

t. George career

With Billy Smith who also joined St George in 1963, Langlands added new firepower to the aging Dragons champion line up. On field the pair demonstrated a magical telepathy and an intuitive understanding of each other’s kicking and positional game. Later in the 60s and early 1970s St George got their best value out of Smith and Langlands when all of the stars of the long reign had gone. It was largely due to their combined class that the club remained competitive up till 1975.

Langlands played in four St George Grand final winning sides, including 1966 where he kicked seven goals to beat Balmain. He was the competition's leading point scorer in season 1971 and season 1973. He was the Dragon's top point scorer in first grade in 10 seasons between 1963 and 1975.

The man and his playing style

Langlands had an unhappy childhood brought up by an alcoholic father. On-field he could be hot-headed and petulant in his early career, though he matured into a fine leader. Fundamentally taciturn and introspective he was not given to pre or post-match speeches as captain but demonstrated an uncompromising leadership style via his will-to-win and a preparedness to be mean and ruthless if required.

He was a graceful, balanced runner of the ball, long-striding and fast. His trademark sidestep off either foot has become legendary in the Australian game. He would almost undetectably feint one way then make a 2m leap the other way at full speed taking him diagonally through a gap and into the clear.

Australian representative career

He made his Test debut against New Zealand in 1963. The depth of selectors' fullback options with Ken Thornett then Les Johns as incumbents meant that Langlands spent the first four years of his Test career at centre. He excelled there and in the Ashes deciding 2nd Test at Swinton on the 1963-64 tour he scored an Anglo-Australian record of 20 individual points in the historic 50-12 “Swinton massacre”. Thereafter Langlands played international football for Australia every season for 13 seasons.

He first captained Australia for the 1970 Ashes series and thereafter barring injury for the next five years. He was Captain-Coach for the 1972 World Cup series, the 1973 Kangaroo Tour and the 1974 Test Series at home against Great Britain. In the deciding 3rd game in 1974, Langlands' final and most memorable of his 34 Test appearances, he played a magnificent match to win the Ashes, scoring a try and kicking two goals to take his career tally against Great Britain over the 100 point mark. The Kangaroos thus came from 16-10 behind at half-time to win the match 22-18 and Changa was carried aloft from the field by his team-mates with the 55,000 strong SCG crowd chanting his name.

He last captained Australia in their undefeated four match campaign of the 1975 World Cup. He was the last Kangaroo selected in the dual Captain-Coach role.

Accolades after retirement

He retired in 1976 at age 34 after 235 matches (all grades) for St George. He suffered the embarrassment in the 1975 Grand Final loss of a pre game pain-killing injection going horribly wrong and deadening his leg nerves and his ability to play. This was compounded by Langlands' decision to wear a sponsor's white boots, with all his mistakes standing out thanks to his bright and unusual boots. Though regarded as having played one season too many, he finished his career as one of most respected men to ever play the game. In his retirement year he was awarded a Member of the British Empire (MBE) medal for his contribution to Rugby League and club life.

In 1985 Rugby League Week nominated an Australian 'Masters' side picking its 13 best players since 1970. Amongst them were eight former Australian captains. Dressing in their Australian strip for a commemorative photo at the Sydney Cricket Ground Langlands was late to take his seat. He arrived to find one spot left – front row, centre seat. These legendary players had spontaneously selected him as their Captain.

In 1999 he and Wally Lewis became the fifth & sixth selected post-war “Immortals” of the Australian game with Churchill, Raper, Gasnier and Fulton. In 2002 he was inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame.

In February 2008, Langlands was named in the list of Australia's "100 Greatest Players" (1908–2007) which was commissioned by the NRL and ARL tocelebrate the code's centenary year in Australia. [cite web|publisher="NRL & ARL"|title=Centenary of Rugby League - The Players
url=http://www.centenaryofrugbyleague.com.au/site/the-players.aspx?cat=3&list=true|accessdate=2008-02-23|date=2008-02-23
] [cite news|author=Peter Cassidy |publisher="Macquarie National News"|title=Controversy reigns as NRL releases top 100 players |url=http://www.livenews.com.au/Articles/2008/02/22/Controversy_reigns_as_NRL_releases_top_100_players |accessdate=2008-02-23|date=2008-02-23] Langlands went on to be named as an interchange player in Australian rugby league's "Team of the Century". Announced on 17 April, 2008, the team is the panel's majority choice for each of the thirteen starting positions and four interchange players. [cite news|author=Todd Balym|publisher="Fox Sports Australia"|title=Johns, Meninga among Immortals |url=http://www.foxsports.com.au/story/0,8659,23557351-23214,00.html |accessdate=2008-04-17|date=2008-04-17] [cite web|publisher="NRL & ARL"|title=Team of the Century Announced |url=http://www.centenaryofrugbyleague.com.au/site/news--reviews/media-releases/team-of-the-century-announced.aspx |accessdate=2008-04-17|date=2008-04-17]

Footnotes

ources

* Whiticker, Alan (2004) "Captaining the Kangaroos", New Holland, Sydney
* Writer, Larry (1995) "Never Before, Never Again", Pan MacMillan, Sydney
* Andrews, Malcolm (2006) "The ABC of Rugby League" Austn Broadcasting Corpn, Sydney
* Whiticker, Alan & Hudson, Glen (2006) "The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players", Gavin Allen Publishing, Sydney

External links

* [http://www.sahof.org.au/hallOfFame/memberProfile/index.php?memberID=121&memberType=athlete Graeme Langlands biography at Sport Australia Hall of Fame]
* [http://www.playtheball.com/rlwc00/greatest/langlands.asp Graeme Langlands at playtheball.com]
* [http://www.eraofthebiff.com/p63a.html Graeme Langlands at eraofthebiff.com]


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