One of Australian sports most iconic captains, John Eales AM, has received the honour of being elevated to ‘Legend’ status making him a ‘Legend of Australian Sport’.
The annual elevation of one member to Legend is the most prestigious sporting honour that can be bestowed on an Australian sportsperson, making Eales only the 42nd Australian to be elevated to Legend status.
Eales will join the likes of Sir Donald Bradman AC, Dawn Fraser AC MBE and Sir Hubert Opperman OBE as well-known Australians who have gone above and beyond in their chosen sport to achieve great success not only for themselves but for their country.
One of the best players to ever wear the gold jersey, Eales played 86 Tests for the Wallabies, with a winning rate of 77.9%. He played 55 Tests as captain with a winning percentage of 74.55%, the best of any Wallaby in history (minimum 10 Tests) and lifted the Bledisloe Cup three times in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
A towering lock, Eales played for Australia at one of the most interesting periods in the sports history when the game transitioned from amateur to professional with Australian Rugby at the forefront of this change.
Making his debut in his home town of Brisbane in 1991, Eales would also go on to score 173 points across his career including two tries, 21 conversions and 34 penalties, with the goal kicking forward having the then-claim of being the highest scoring forward in World Rugby history amongst tier one nations.
Eales made his mark on the global game leading the Wallabies through a golden period of Australian Rugby, including being World Champions twice in a decade in 1991 and 1999. Importantly during this era, the Wallabies defined the game with innovation, skill and tactics that saw the emergence of running Rugby and reinvigorated the global game.
Most famously, Eales singlehandedly kept the Bledisloe Cup in Australian heads when he kicked the match winning penalty against the All Blacks in Wellington in 2000 with Australia defeating New Zealand 24-23 at the death.
Rugby Australia Chairman Hamish McLennan said: “The Australian Rugby community is incredibly proud John has received this accolade and on behalf of everyone, we extend our congratulations to John and his family.
“John without question is one of the great characters and icons of our sport, not just for the way he conducted himself in the Gold jersey, but for the way he defined what it meant be a Wallaby during his playing days.
“Never taking a backward step, playing hard and fair are the values that encapsulates the Wallabies wherever they play around the world, and that is in no small part due to the contribution of John made whilst he played and captained his country.
“Today, John should look back on his achievements on-and-off the field with a great level of pride, having always worked humbly for the success of himself, his teammates and his country.”
Classic Wallaby, John Eales AM said: “I am truly honoured with this announcement by Sport Australia Hall of Fame and would like to thank all involved in selecting me.
“There have been truly amazing Australians who have received this honour and the fact I am even considered in the same breath is very humbling.
“Rugby and the Wallabies gave me a lot throughout my playing career, and I am forever grateful for the many opportunities afforded to me by so many people along the way.
“Most importantly though I would like to thank my loving family. They have supported me through the highs and lows and without them, achievements of any kind would matter little.”