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Nathan Hindmarsh is a player who is renowned for his ungainly appearance. Having established himself as a stalwart for Parramatta, New South Wales and eventually Australia, he often leaves pundits wondering how he keeps going like he does. He looks out of shape, overweight and is a perennial sufferer of the dreaded ?plumber?s crack?. He?s even been aptly described as having a ?sway gut and funny bum?. Yet he almost always seems to be the first defender on the scene when there?s a break, the first player rushing up on a field goal attempt, and the least likely candidate for a replacement.
But as much as he seems unique for the great divide he demonstrates between apparent and actual athleticism, he?s not the first of his kind.
If we look back through the annals of rugby league history, we?ll eventually stumble across the name Brian Bevan. There have been countless superlatives used to describe Bevan?s appearance throughout the years, but very few of them are uplifting. Thin, balding, awkward, flimsy, knobbly-kneed, frail, lurching. These are just some examples, and most of these applied to the man when he was still barely 21 years of age!
Of course anyone in the know will tell you that Bevan was a living, breathing example of why you just can?t judge a book by its cover.
The fact is that Brian Bevan will forever remain arguably the greatest tryscoring winger rugby league will ever see.
If you don?t believe me, let the stats help you decide. I?ll drip feed them to you so you can take a moment to let each one soak in. So let?s start with this little tidbit ? in the 1952-53 English season, he scored 72 tries for Warrington.
Not that amazing? It?s only the English competition, I hear you scoff? Admittedly, that?s not the all-time record ? another player by the name of Albert Rosenfeld once scored 80 in a season.
Not to worry, let?s try another. Fact: he scored 69 hat-tricks in his career.
Still wondering what makes him so special? Hard to please, you are! Not to worry, there?s more.
Fact: He scored four tries in a match on 22 occasions.
Amazing isn?t it? How about this one ? he scored five tries on seven occasions. One in a million players are lucky to do that once! But that?s not all ? he actually scored six tries in a game four times, and believe it or not, has twice scored seven tries in a single game.
Can you even imagine watching a thin, spindly bald looking character scoring 7 tries in a top-flight rugby league match?
It?s incredible, but it?s absolutely true. Brian Bevan played 18 seasons in England, amassing 688 appearances. Over that time he scored an incomparable 796 tries, a statistic which is a great example of daylight coming second ? there is a gap of 263 between him and second place on the English all-time tryscorers list.
What else is amazing is that Bevan actually began his career at Eastern Suburbs in the lower grades. The onset of the second world war saw him end up in England, where he eventually got a start with Warrington. He was born in Bondi in 1924, but despite his incredible talent, never once played a game for Australia.
Because of this, he is the only player in the history of the game to have a place in both the English and Australian rugby league halls of fame. That accolade alone is a true indication of the unique place in history he holds. There are champions, there are legends, and there are immortals. Brian Bevan, however, is surely the only player who could be considered truly unsurpassable.
One could only imagine what his place in the annals of Australia rugby league might have become if he had remained in Sydney to forge out a career. The great shame is that his name is rarely on the lips of the game?s legends and commentators when all-time great players are spoken of.
Even though he never enjoyed the honour of representing his country, perhaps he should at least be afforded the honour of being considered one of the greatest Australian rugby league players of all time. I?m not sure what the criteria is for becoming one of rugby league?s Immortals, but whatever it is, an exception needs to be made for Brian Bevan.
Because there will never be another player quite like him.