Ken Irvine

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Career Stats & Summary

Vital Statistics

Full Name
Kenneth John Irvine
Tuesday, 5th March, 1940
Saturday, 22nd December, 1990 (Aged 50 years and 291 days)

Awards & Accolades

Australian Hall Of Fame
International Hall Of Fame


Ken Irvine's records and achievements place him at the very top of the list of Australia's champion wingers. Irvine was a sprint champion with a unique gift for scoring a try. In a career spanning 16 seasons, he scored more tries than any other player in the history of the code (212 tries in 242 games for Norths and Manly). In 31 Test appearances, including three Kangaroo tours (1959-60, 1963-64 & 1967-68), Irvine scored 121pts (33t, 11g). Appearing in 24 matches for NSW he still heads the try-scoring list with 30 tries. A student of Mosman Marist Brothers Irvine had very little rugby league experience as a youngster, preferring instead athletics and baseball. He was a member of the NSW Colts baseball side (along with Reg Gasnier) and could have pressed for selection for the 1960 Olympics in athletics had he not chosen to follow a career in league. In early 1958 Norths' secretary Harry McKinnon signed Irvine after spotting the 17-year-old in a trial match. The season's leading try-scorer in 1959 (19t) he made his Test debut against France on the 1959-60 Kangaroo Tour. Not only a prolific try-scorer, Irvine was also a fine goal-kicker. In the Third Test against Great Britain in 1962, Australia was facing a series whitewash until Irvine converted a late try (with guidance from referee Darcy Lawler who told him to re-align the ball) to post an 18-17 win. In the early 1960s, he held the world professional 100 yards record (9.3 seconds) and on one celebrated occasion, even took on a racehorse, ‘Gili’, in a match race. (The horse won). Irvine scored two tries in Australia's 50-12 Second Test win at Swinton to take the Ashes but was not to fare as well on his next tour of England and France in 1967-68. Despite taking his tally to a record 12 tries in Anglo-Australian Tests he broke his leg in France and missed most of the 1968 season. Irvine returned to the game and was the season's leading try-scorer in 1969 (17t) but the following year, he led an infamous player walk-off in a game against C’bury after he was sent off by referee Keith page for swearing. In 1970 he played for Australia in an international match against France at the end of the World Cup despite not having been part of the original squad. After further disagreements with Norths’ high-profile English coach Roy Francis, he joined Manly in 1971. The Sea Eagles gave him the end to his career he wanted - consecutive premierships in 1972-73. Irvine lost a private battle against leukemia in 1990, age 50, and was inducted into the Rugby League Hall of Fame in 2004.


Career Statistics

All statistics shown in this section are based only on data available in the RLP database, and are not necessarily a complete and/or 100% accurate representation of a player's career. This information should be used as a guide only. If you see a question mark (?), it denotes that the figure is not available.

To view a list of corresponding matches, click on the Match list icon.


Test Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
Australia 1959-67, 1970 37 42 11   - 148 27 8 2 72.97% Match list
Overall 1959-1970 37 42 11   0 148 27 8 2 72.97% Match list

World Cup Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
Australia 1959-1960 2 - -   - - 2 0 0 100.00% Match list
Overall 1960 2 0 0   0 - 2 0 0 100.00% Match list


Australia - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
NSW Firsts 1959-67 27 30 4   - 98 18 7 2 66.67% Match list
NSW City Firsts 1960-67 8 7 -   - 21 6 2 0 75.00% Match list
Overall 1959-1967 35 37 4   0 119 24 9 2 68.57% Match list

Club Career

Australian League Matches - By Year

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
North Sydney NSWRFL 1958 ? - -   - -  
North Sydney NSWRFL 1959 ? 19 -   - 57  
North Sydney NSWRFL 1960 ? 16 -   - 48  
North Sydney NSWRFL 1961 ? 17 1   - 53  
North Sydney NSWRFL 1962 ? 15 12   - 69  
North Sydney NSWRFL 1963 ? 16 -   - 48  
North Sydney NSWRFL 1964 ? 15 3   - 51  
North Sydney NSWRFL 1965 ? 13 3   - 45  
North Sydney NSWRFL 1966 ? 13 1   - 41  
North Sydney NSWRFL 1967 ? 14 26   1 96  
North Sydney NSWRFL 1968 ? - -   - -  
North Sydney NSWRFL 1969 ? 17 13   - 77  
North Sydney NSWRFL 1970 ? 16 -   - 48  
Manly Warringah NSWRFL 1971 ? 15 -   - 45  
Manly Warringah NSWRFL 1972 ? 13 11   - 61  
Manly Warringah NSWRFL 1973 ? 13 -   - 39  
Overall 1958-1973 ? 212 70   1 778 ? ? ? ?  

Australian League Matches - By Team

Team Years App T G   GK % FG Pts W L D Win %  
North Sydney 1958-70 ? 171 59   1 633 ? ? ? ?  
Manly Warringah 1971-73 ? 41 11   - 145 ? ? ? ?  
Overall 1958-1973 ? 212 70   1 778 ? ? ? ?  

Your Say

Col the Bear says: Ken Irvine is also a member of the North Sydney Team of the Century (wing). (05/02/2011)

Philip O'Brien says: In my opinion, Ken Irvine was the greatest winger of his era and one of the greatest of all time. He had pace, safe hands, anticipation and the ability to swerve at high speed around tackles . Contemporary rugby league players might be superior athletes but there?s not the extreme speed on the wings that there was in Irvine's day. The irony is that Irvine (173 cm tall and weighing 73.5 kg) would be too small for the modern game. (01/06/2011)

Anonymous says: SIMPLY THE BEST (03/09/2011)

Anonymous says: They walked in 1947, took 'em longer to get Kenny. (27/02/2012)

roy horrigan says: greatest winger of all time by a mile.nobody of the
modern era comes near the pace and dexterity of
ken irvine.was at kembla grange the day he raced
gili the racehorse.the only time i saw anything race away from him.i think athol mulley rode gili that day.tragically taken far too soon.he left some great football memories.a one in a century player. (01/04/2012)

Michael Young says: One of the best to play the game in any position. His career would have been more stellar if he had transferred from North Sydney earlier. He would have been a sensation in todays game with the 10m rule giving him more room. He also kicked the odd goal. As part of the Kangaroos he was equall to those inside him. eg Changa & Puff the magic Dragon (Gasnier) (17/06/2012)

barryp says: my first run in pro race was given 8.5 yards start

he went past like i was nailed to ground ,

my old trainer ned green used to say that ken

took an extra step before he hit the ground backhand complement (06/07/2012)

Wayne hinder says: Never have seen the crowd stand to their feet every time ken touched the ball (24/09/2012)

Jim West says: I played for Marist Brothers Parramatta against Ken in the ACC RL competition in 1956 and 1957, and he was a very personable and likeable guy. Parra won in '56 (14-9), but we just couldn't contain him and he kicked our butt (30-5) in the GF in '57. (01/10/2012)

Rabbit Ian says: Ken Irvine the very best ever, imagine how many tries he would have had if the corner post was the same rule they have today, seen him lose many tries due to being tackled into the corner post, he surely had the ball down whilst he was still in the air.
The very first time that I seen a live game of league Mongo scored three quick tries against the berries.
Legend RIP Champion (10/06/2016)

Costa says: Should have been an immortal. His record speaks for itself. Brilliant finisher with a try scoring record that is still unbeaten with 212 tries. Went on 3 Kangaroo tours. The greatest winger of all time. RIP (26/10/2017)

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Last modified: Tue, 26 Jan 2021 10:58:18 +1100 (Sydney time)