Time for new group of heroes to deliver – Steadman

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GREAT Britain legend Graham Steadman would love nothing more than never to be asked about that try in Melbourne ever again.

Not that he is unproud of the stunning solo effort that memorably helped vanquish Australia 33-10 – yes, the revered Kangaroos, utterly trounced and in their own backyard, too – back on a crazy night in 1992.

MELBOURNE MAGIC: Great Britain's Graham Steadman is brought down in the 1992 Test against Australia in Melbourne, where the Castleford star scored a memorable try. Picture: Andrew Varley.

MELBOURNE MAGIC: Great Britain's Graham Steadman is brought down in the 1992 Test against Australia in Melbourne, where the Castleford star scored a memorable try. Picture: Andrew Varley.

Indeed, it is perhaps rated the pinnacle of a glorious career that, among other things, saw the genial lad from Knottingley once command a world record transfer fee after leaving Featherstone Rovers for fierce rivals Castleford.

But Steadman feel that if the subject of that try never came up again it would mean that, at last, Great Britain – or in their present guise of England – would finally have achieved the elusive victory that matters most: an actual tournament success.

Fans still want to talk to him about the events of 22 years ago because it was just such a rare feat, the Lions having prospered in Australia only one time since.

Malcolm Reilly’s side levelled the Ashes series that night but ultimately went on to lose the third and deciding Test in a pattern that has become all too prevalent.

However, as the current England side prepare to take on Australia in Melbourne again this Sunday the stakes are high once more.

Victory would see the world champions eliminated and set up a likely final with New Zealand which opens up possibilities of a first tournament success since Great Britain ruled at the 1972 World Cup.

Speaking exclusively to The Yorkshire Post, Steadman admitted: “That try was nice and probably one of the most important I ever scored in terms of the occasion, levelling the series like that.

“Winning in Melbourne was right up there as one of the highlights of all my playing days but, without a doubt, we are long overdue a tournament or series win and I’d be so happy to see that happen now.

“In all honesty, I don’t think they are going to get a better opportunity than they will this weekend.

“Australia are in some period of transition and Tim Sheens knows they need to hit straight back after losing against the Kiwis last week. But if this England side plays to its full potential I do think they’ll be in that final in Wellington.

“Let’s not forget they have to win that, too, but if they beat the Aussies they will have a really great chance to do that.”

But what of his try that helped seal one of the most famous wins in Lions history?

Steadman, now 52 and one of the most dazzling full-backs in that era when he starred with Castleford, recalled: “To be quite honest, I saw Mal Meninga in front of me and just realised I didn’t want to be running directly at him.

“I stepped off my right foot –which was unusual as I predominantly stepped off my left – saw an opening down the short side and, thankfully, their full-back 
Andrew Ettinghausen just couldn’t get his hands on me. I remember it like yesterday and that, in the build-up, the whole side just believed in ourselves.

“There was some great players with Paul Newlove at centre, Phil Clarke leading the charge and then the big men of Kelvin Skerrett and Andy Platt with Denis Betts a real workhorse.

“But the stand-out for me was Billy McGinty. He was an unsung hero and just phenomenal; his efforts inspired those around him.

“We played the greasy, wet conditions far better than the Aussies and kicked really well but, unfortunately, we couldn’t dominate the same way in the final Test.

“I don’t think I’ve ever played in a game where an opponent has dominated field position quite as much as the Aussies did in that third Test.

“Their line speed and every aspect of their play that night was just unreal and, unfortunately, we just couldn’t handle it.

“The good thing about this Four Nations, though, is England only have to beat them once.”

Steadman, who was also Brian Noble’s assistant when Great Britain defeated Australia 24-12 at Wigan in the 2004 Tri-Nations, is currently the defensive coach at Aviva Premiership club Newcastle Falcons.

He will be up early on Sunday morning, though, to see if England can create their own history and is expecting a big game from a player who has shone with his former club Castleford.

“Daryl Clark impressed last week and the lad from Hull KR – Josh Hodgson – went well too against Samoa,” he added.

“They’ll have to all bring their ‘A’ game now.

“But if Matty Smith can kick like he did against Samoa – I think that was the difference – and they can tighten up in the middle I can see them beating this Australian team.”

And then, although the likes of Steadman, Ellery Hanley, Jason Robinson, Sean Long and others will always be remembered as English heroes in these matters, some new names will be a step closer to going on to emulate them.