Graham Cooke to be inducted into the Queensland Rugby Union Hall of Fame

Graham Cooke is to be inducted this month into the Queensland Rugby Union Hall of Fame as the most remarkable example of longevity in Wallabies history.

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It is nearly 76 years since Cooke last packed into a scrum as a second-rower for Australia but his record stands to this day.

No Australian has a greater span between Tests than Cooke, who waited 13 years after a 1933 appearance for his next chance in 1946.

He retained his verve and performance to play despite World War II forcing the cancellation of seven Test seasons.

Cooke will be one of three Queenslanders named to join the QRU Hall of Fame at the Season Launch Long Lunch on February 16 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Raw-boned Graham Morven Cooke made his Test debut against the All Blacks at just 20 in 1932 after impressing in his initial games for Queensland.

He had the durability of the railway sleepers on the train line to the Darling Downs where he was raised and his hand enveloped yours in any handshake. It was a young body toughened by manual work as a blacksmith striker, time erecting windmills and a carpentry apprenticeship.

He was a hard man of 35 by the time he played his 13th and final Test on the famous 1947-48 Wallabies tour of Great Britain, Ireland and France.

He played 23 times for Queensland across a decorated career. He was still a regular supporter at Ballymore into his 70s with his distinctive ears telling a story of their own from long seasons of grappling in the forwards.

Cooke died at 84 in 1996 after a storied life that took him far from Nanango, his small town of birth.

He was selected for the 1933 Wallabies tour of South Africa, an experience that left such a mark that he accepted an offer to return to South Africa. He played for Transvaal during three years abroad.

There was no Wallabies spot for him upon his pre-war return but he made a celebrated on the first post-war Wallabies tour to New Zealand in 1946. 

There were question marks over whether he was too old for the 1947-48 tour but the Wallabies were ever-grateful to have him.

He featured in the Test victories over Scotland, Ireland and England, started all five Tests on tour and played 23 games in all in a grand finale to his international career.

Cooke was inducted into the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame in 2012.

Cooke’s surviving family are welcome and asked to contact benjamin.thurlow@reds.rugby

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