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June 16: Sterling worth weight in gold; Artie gets captaincy honour

On this day, a Hall of Fame multiple premiership-winning halfback was born, Artie named Indigenous Team of the Century captain and the Maroons inflict misery on Blues.


Hall of Famer Peter Sterling was born in Toowoomba. In 1978, with his team facing a semi-final replay against Manly, Parramatta coach Terry Fearnley made the stunning move to promote his under-23s five-eighth, the schoolboy Peter Sterling, to play his first top-grade game ... at fullback. He played strongly on debut and played another 227 matches for the Eels, including the grand final wins of 1981-83 and '86. 

As the playmaker, the NSW halfback took charge of the Eels' celebrated backline, which featured stars such as Mick Cronin, Brett Kenny, Steve Ella and Eric Grothe, his vision and timing bringing out the best in the players around him. The blond maestro also starred in an unprecedented era of dominance by Australia. He played in two undefeated Kangaroo tours, tasted defeat only twice in 18 Tests and was a shining star for Hull in two off-season stints in the mid-1980s.


John Skandalis was born. The front-rower made his debut for Western Suburbs in 1996 and was a foundation member of the Wests Tigers in 2000, playing his part in the club's premiership success five years later. He left at the end of 2006 for a couple of seasons in the Super League with Huddersfield before returning in 2008-09, bringing his career tally to 249 matches at the Magpies and Tigers.

Wests Tigers prop John Skandalis.
Wests Tigers prop John Skandalis. ©NRL Photos


Australia and Great Britain meet at Lang Park in the first international match in Australia played under lights. The home side crushes an inept touring outfit 35-0. Mick Cronin lands 10 goals from 11 attempts.        


Matt Moylan was born. A talented fullback or five-eighth, he made his NRL debut with Penrith in 2013 and played 89 games across five seasons. He joined Cronulla in 2018. Moylan made his NSW debut in 2016, playing all three matches of the series, and also broke into the Test ranks for Australia that year. He has now racked up 160 NRL games.


Euan Aitken was born. The centre, who has represented Scotland in the international arena, made his NRL debut with St George Illawarra in 2015, establishing himself in the top grade as a rugged defender and imposing attacking player. After six years and 121 games with the Red V he joined the New Zealand Warriors in 2021.


Latrell Mitchell was born in Taree. A goal-kicking centre or fullback, he made his NRL debut with the Roosters in 2016 and was one of the stars of their back-to-back premierships in 2018-19. Mitchell played strongly for NSW in their 2018 Origin series win and went on to play two Tests for the Kangaroos at the end of the season. In 2020 he joined the Rabbitohs and in 2021 he was again a leading figure in NSW's Origin series success.

Centre Latrell Mitchell after a win.
Centre Latrell Mitchell after a win. ©Shane Myers/NRL Photos


Arthur Beetson is named captain of Australia’s indigenous rugby league team of the century.   


St George Illawarra interchange Michael Ennis kicks a sideline conversion in the final minute to sink Brisbane 18-16 in a pulsating clash at Suncorp Stadium.  


Queensland inflict a fifth consecutive series defeat on NSW with a merciless 34-6 caning at Suncorp Stadium. AFL convert Israel Folau rubs salt into the wounds with two tries for the Maroons.            


Newcastle fullback Kalyn Ponga commits to a four-year contract extension with the Knights, reported to be worth more than $4 million. The deal means Ponga will remain in Newcastle until at least 2024.


This article contains information from the official records of NRL historian David Middleton.

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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