Australia's Simon Poidevin gains a slot in the greatest blindsides to ever play
Major teams: Randwick, NSW Waratahs
Test span: 1980-91
Test caps: 59 (59 starts)
Test points: 24 (6T)
His isn’t the first name to spring to mind when recalling the Wallaby side of the early Nineties, but the ‘boy from the bush’ was an integral part of it.
The flanker from the NSW country town of Goulburn was almost freakishly fit, his ability to get on the inside shoulders of Mark Ella and Michael Lynagh on the 1984 Wallabies tour bringing him a try at Twickenham – one of six in his 59-cap career.
A strong ball-carrier who could occupy three defenders, Poidevin had a prodigious tackle rate and an obsessive refusal to accept defeat.
Ella rated him Australia’s best player for years – “He’s such a perfectionist, it’s almost a disease,” he said – while Grand Slam-winning coach Alan Jones went even further: “For his commitment, competitiveness, discipline, will to win and determination to perfect skills, Poidevin is without peer in modern rugby.”
Sport is in Poidevin’s blood. A descendent of a French wine merchant, his grandfather was selected for the first Wallaby tour to Britain in 1908, while a great uncle was the first Australian batsman to score a century of centuries at all levels of cricket.
Comfortable on both flanks, the Randwick player stood toe to toe with the formidable All Blacks side of the mid-Eighties, helping the Wallabies win the Bledisloe Cup on foreign soil. He captained his country in the same year, 1986, but was bitterly disappointed at Australia’s fourth-place finish at the following year’s inaugural World Cup – and chose to retire.
Bob Dwyer was never going to accept that. By 1991 Poidevin was installed in Dwyer’s World Cup XV and his tireless scavenging and unbreakable spirit in the face of a bigger English pack in the final was a crucial element in Australia’s triumph. Even after getting wiped out by a huge Mickey Skinner hit, Poidevin just smiled and came back for more.
It was to be the final Test outing for the player given the sobriquet ‘The King’.