Jimmy Craig (rugby league)

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Jim Craig (1895–1959) was an Australian rugby league footballer and coach. He was a versatile back for the Australian national team. He played in 7 Tests between 1921 and 1928 as captain on 3 occasions and has since been named amongst the nation's finest footballers of the 20th century.[1] Craig was a player of unparalleled versatility. It is known that he represented in Tests at fullback, centre, halfback and hooker with some of his club & tour football played at winger, five-eighth and lock forward. Whiticker's reference reports that the great Dally Messenger regarded Craig as the greatest player Messenger ever saw.[2]

Early years

Craig grew up in Balmain in Sydney and played as a junor for the local club.

Playing career


Craig made his first grade NSWRFL Premiership debut as a winger in 1915 with the Balmain club. He played at centre for Balmain in the 1916 NSWRFL season's premiership final victory over South Sydney. Craig played five seasons with the club excluding 1918 when he was on military duty. Balmain won the premiership in all five of those years. Craig's versatility was such that he was selected at hooker for a match on tour of New Zealand in 1919.[3]


Graig first represented for New South Wales against a touring English side in 1920. He was selected on the 1921–22 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain and made his Test debut in the first Test at Leeds. He appeared in 23 minor tour matches notching a total of 58 points as a try scorer and goal kicker. Following his Kangaroo Tour representative appearances in 1922 he played a season with the University club in Sydney.

Jim Craig Qld State Captain 1924

In 1923 Craig relocated to Queensland and took the captain-coach position with Ipswich for the next six seasons. While a Queensland resident from 1923–28 he represented that state on 23 occasions and then in 1929 he twice again represented for New South Wales.

In the 1924 domestic Ashes series against England Craig was named as Australian captain in all three Tests. Again in 1928 he played in all three Tests of the domestic Ashes series in sides led by his Queensland rival Tom Gorman.

The last two seasons of Craig's sixteen-year career were with the Western Suburbs Magpies. Craig was the NSWRL's top points scorer in seasons 1929 and 1930. He was captain-coach of the side to their maiden title over St George in season 1930 in the first ever Grand Final played to determine the premiership.


After football Jim Craig coached Western Suburbs in 1932 and 1939 and North Sydney in 1936. He coached Canterbury-Bankstown to win the Premiership in 1938.

Craig died on 13 December 1959, aged 65.

In 2005 he was admitted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame.[4]

In February 2008, Craig was named in the list of Australia's 100 Greatest Players (1908–2007) which was commissioned by the NRL and ARL to celebrate the code's centenary year in Australia.[5] In June 2008, he was chosen in the Queensland Rugby League's Team of the Century on interchange bench.[6]

In 2012 Craig was inducted into the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame.[7]


  1. Century's Top 100 Players
  2. Whiticker quote p77
  3. 2005 Annual Report{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Dead link |date=__DATE__ |$B=[dead link] }} - Australian Rugby League (p. 50)
  4. Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Dead link |date=__DATE__ |$B=[dead link] }}
  5. "Centenary of Rugby League – The Players". NRL & ARL. 23 February 2008. http://www.centenaryofrugbyleague.com.au/site/the-players.aspx?cat=3&list=true. Retrieved 2008-02-23.{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Dead link |date=__DATE__ |$B=[dead link] }}
  6. Ricketts, Steve (10 June 2008). "Locky named No.1 but Wal's still King". The Courier-Mail. Archived from the original on 20 May 2009. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.news.com.au%2Fcouriermail%2Fstory%2F0%2C23739%2C23843448-10389%2C00.html&date=2009-05-20. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
  7. "Mr Jim Craig". Queensland Sport Hall of Fame. qsport.org.au. http://www.qsport.org.au/qshof/biography.asp?ID=168. Retrieved 26 January 2014.