David Campese, Australia. World Cups Played In – 1987, 1991, 1995
Campese was named Player of the Tournament in the 1991 World Cup. Not just for his on-field presence and try scoring exploits, but part of his off-field mannerisms which may have affected the mind-set of the English in the 1991 Final.
Following England’s try-less semi-final against Scotland, he publicly stated that he wouldn’t play for England, even if he was paid a lot of money to do so and if he was to play for England, he would be insisting on playing at fly-half so he would at least get to touch the ball.
He then proceeded to slate the English style as boring and a good way to destroy the image of the game. As a result, though probably not the only reason, England changed their style of play, and ended up damaging themselves more than if they had stuck to their guns.
The Australian’s own semi-final against New Zealand showed Campese kicking a ball about in the try area during the Haka. His glorious score as first receiver from a ruck demoralised the Kiwi’s and his miracle assist for Tim Horan to score is one which lives in the memory. Over his career, the try would turn out to be one of 10 in all three World Cups, and 64 of his whole 101-cap career.
Sadly for Campese, his ’91 campaign would be his best. In the inaugural competition, a series of injury problems restricted his performances, and in 1995, he was one of several older players who were kept in the squad with a sense of nostalgia, which led to a quarter-final knock out against England in Cape Town.
Campese used a mistake against the 1989 British and Irish Lions tour, which cost the hosts the game and series, as fuel to drive himself on through the 1991 World Cup, desperate to paint new memories into the Australian public. Fairly safe to say, it worked.Reuse content