Major teams: University of Queensland, Queensland, Saracens
Test span: 1984-95
Test caps: 72 (71 starts)
Test points: 911 (17T, 140C, 177P, 9DG)
Rugby’s Greatest: Michael Lynagh
As the son of a sports psychologist, Michael Lynagh paid close attention to mental preparation long before it was fashionable. He would sit in public areas of hotels so that people would talk to him and deny him the time to get nervous. His strategies certainly worked because he retired from Test rugby as the world’s record point-scorer with 911, a figure since surpassed by only eight players.
He was only 21 years old when he played outside Mark Ella on the Wallabies’ Grand Slam tour of 1984, and his distribution, measured tactical kicking and ability to never look rushed marked him out as a special talent.
By the 1991 World Cup he was a world-class fly-half, and showed in the closing minutes of the Dublin quarter-final against Ireland that he possessed leadership skills to go with his clear thinking. Spurning a drop-goal attempt, he called a backs move that would win the game rather than draw it, and Lynagh himself went over for the crucial score. “Cometh the hour, cometh the man,” said head coach Bob Dwyer.
Nothing he did could match that day and the subsequent final victory over England at Twickenham, but he continued to impress on the international stage right up to the last days of amateurism, scoring 17 points in his final Test – one of 12 as Wallaby captain – against England at the 1995 World Cup.
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Nicknamed Noddy, Lynagh then played three seasons in the English Premiership with Saracens, bowing out with victory in the 1998 Tetley’s Bitter Cup final. In addition to his prodigious Test feats, he was capped 100 times by Queensland, scoring 1,166 points, and he is now sharing his wisdom as a Sky TV pundit.
Rugby World once played paintball with Lynagh and he splattered us in every game. His reactions were always a cut above and thank goodness he “dodged a bullet” eight years ago when suffering a near fatal stroke. He’s a staunch supporter of the Stroke Association.