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Roach, O'Connor inducted into NSWRL Hall of Fame

True Blues Steve Roach and Michael O’Connor have tonight been inducted into the NSWRL The Star Hall of Fame in front of almost 500 guests at The Star Event Centre in Pyrmont.

The glittering event was attended by Westpac NSW Blues coach Michael Maguire and the Westpac NSW Blues, Westpac NSW Sky Blues coach Kylie Hilder and Westpac NSW Sky Blues players, NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden, NSWRL Chairman Paul Conlon, the NSWRL Board, and True Blues ambassadors including Boyd Cordner, Danny Buderus, Nathan Hindmarsh, Steve Menzies and Craig Wing.

“The True Blues dinner is always a wonderful occasion as it signals the start of the State of Origin series, as well as provide an opportunity for former players to catch up and reminisce about their time together in the sky blue jersey,” NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden said.

“One of the core pillars of the NSWRL is inheritance and it is extremely important to our organisation that we recognise and acknowledge the players who have contributed to our proud history.

“We also welcomed two absolute legends of the game into the NSWRL The Star Hall of Fame tonight in Steve Roach and Michael O’Connor.

“Steve was a cornerstone of the NSW forward pack and led from the front to inspire the Blues to several series victories, including the memorable first series win for the state in 1985.

“Michael was a goalkicking centre with silky skills who also provided several Origin highlights, most notably when he landed a sideline conversion in the pouring rain at the SCG to secure a win in Game Two of the 1991 series.

“They are both worthy additions to the NSWRL The Star Hall of Fame and I congratulate them on their achievement.”

Roach, aka ‘Blocker’, joined Balmain from Wollongong Wests in 1982 and went on to have a long and distinguished career as a hard-running front rower with great ball skills. He was part of the 1989 Grand Final team against Canberra Raiders that has gone down as one of the greatest deciders in history.

He made 17 appearances for NSW in State of Origin, helping them to series wins against Queensland in 1985-86 and 1990. After retirement, he went on to a successful broadcast career with stints at Channel Nine, 2UE, 2GB and currently Fox Sports.

O’Connor was a dual international who made the switch from rugby union to sign with St George Dragons in 1983. He switched to Manly in 1987 and was part of the premiership-winning team that year.

He made his debut for NSW in 1985 and turned in a memorable performance after scoring all 18 points in the opening game to set up the Blues’ first series win.

The NSWRL The Star Hall of Fame inductees includes the 11 Immortals and 18 other players who have represented their state with distinction.

The qualification for the NSWRL The Star Hall of Fame is:
a) The player must have played 10 games or more for NSW; or, alternatively, the player must have captained NSW; and
b) The player must have also played for Australia: and
c) The player must also have been retired for at least five seasons.

Steve Roach
Year inducted: 2024
True Blue number: 783
Origin number: 55
Born: 24 April, 1962, Wollongong, NSW
Club: Balmain Tigers
Position: Prop
Premiership Career: (1982-92) 185 games, 12 tries, 48 points
First Grade debut: Balmain Tigers vs Canberra Raiders at Leichhardt Oval, Sydney on 9 May, 1982
Representative honours: Australia 20 Tests (1985-86, 1988-91), NSW 17 State of Origins (1984-86, 88, 1990-91) 
Other honours: NRL Hall of Fame 2008

Through the mid-1980s Balmain prop Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach was an automatic pick for New South Wales. He was the enforcer of the Blues’ pack, the one player his team-mates were forever thankful that he was on their side and not dishing out his fury in an opposing jersey.

Roach was the team’s undisputed Alpha male, who walked that fine line between fair and foul and occasionally over-stepped the mark. But his career was not defined by intimidation; Roach was blessed with elite ball skills and his ability to hold off defenders and release to support players was a feature of his game.

His imposing physical presence, combined with these skills earned him a long career at representative level. Roach played 17 Origin games for his state which included series victories in 1985, 1986 and 1990. And he toured twice with the Kangaroos and played 20 Tests in the green and gold. He was named one of the top 100 Australian players of the century in 2008.

-    David Middleton

Michael O’Connor
Year inducted: 2024
True Blue number: 793 
Origin number: 69
Born: 30 November, 1960, Nowra, NSW
Club: St George Dragons, Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Position: Centre
Premiership Career: (1983-92) 193 games, 87 tries, 310 goals, 11 field goals, 979 points, (St George Dragons 1983-86, 78 games, 33 tries, 130 goals, 9 field goals, 401 points; Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 1987-92, 115 games, 54 tries, 180 goals, 2 field goals, 578 points)
First Grade debut: St George Dragons v Western Suburbs Magpies at Kogarah Oval on 13 March, 1983
Representative honours: Australia 9 Tests (1986, 1988-90), NSW 19 State of Origins (1985-91)

Michael O’Connor took a giant step towards greatness as a New South Wales representative on the first day that he wore the sky blue jersey. In a memorable debut at Lang Park, O’Connor scored all 18 points for the Blues (two tries and five goals) in a shock 18-2 victory in the opening game of the 1985 series.

He became a mainstay of the Blues backline, playing primarily at centre and occasionally on the wing in 19 appearances through to 1991. It was in his final series that O’Connor figured in one of the most iconic moments in Blues’ Origin history when he booted a sideline conversion in torrential rain at the Sydney Football Stadium to secure a famous win.

O’Connor remains the Blues’ highest scorer, with 129 points, and his tally of 11 tries has not been surpassed by a NSW player at Origin level. He was a key contributor to the Blues’ maiden series success in 1985 and won further series with the state in 1986 (the first Origin clean-sweep) and 1990.

-   David Middleton

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