Cricket legend Sam Trimble, surfing star Tyler Wright and NRL player Matt King.
Cricket legend Sam Trimble, surfing star Tyler Wright and NRL player Matt King. Contributed

#11-20: Northern Rivers' greatest sports stars of all time

WE ARE getting close to the point end in our list of Top 50 Northern Rivers' greatest sports stars of all time.

Today we reveal the sport stars who made #11-20.

The inclusion of one of the names on the list is sure to generate much debate, and was the cause of a great deal of discussion in the office.

In the end, it was included, as the list is about great sporting achievement and not what happens behind the scenes.

So, let us know what you think. Email news@northernstar.com.au with your suggestions and thoughts.

 

20. Danny Wills

OLD MATES: Mick Fanning and Danny Wills prepare to paddle out for their heat.
Mick Fanning and Danny Wills. Contributed

THE best surfer from Byron Bay to never have won a world title, Danny Wills had the misfortune to be a stand-out surfer at a time when the competition was tougher than usual.

The former ASP World Tour surfer and 'Top-44' contender grew up surfing with his dad Mick at four.

Wills, a natural-footer, made his debut on the surfing world tour in 1997 where he spent 13 years.

In his maiden year he stunned onlookers when he managed a big heat win at the Buondi Pro, in Figueira da Foz, Portugal, against Kelly Slater, the seemingly impregnable then five-time World Champion.

With his deadly combination of power, determination and finesse, Wills was once praised as the most technically perfect on tour and rose to be ranked number three in the world in 1998.

He'd taken out back-to-back contests in Japan, before losing out to then 11-time world champion Slater.

Sponsored by Quiksilver and regarded as one of the fittest men on the professional tour, he had beaten some of the most impressive wave-riders including American Tom Curren.

At Bells Beach in 2001 he surfed superbly but came unstuck in the final when wild-card Mick Fanning blitzed through in the frenzy that is the Rip Curl Pro, to beat one of his childhood idols.

Wills came second and narrowly missing out on the ringing the famous trophy Willis was a good sport at the presentation.

In March 2009 Wills formerly retired from the ASP

In 2016 Wills became the NSW Open Shortboard Champion and he's previously won the local Ben King Memorial Easter Surf Classic at Byron Bay.

Wills who is still an active member of the local surfing club, now runs a surf shop in his hometown and can still be seen ripping on waves up and down the coast.

 

19. Lisa Casagrande

SOCIAL MEDIA IMAGE DISCUSS USE WITH YOUR EDITOR - STRIKING MIDFIELDER: Former Matlida Lisa Casagrande is regarded as one of he best soccer female soccer players Australia has produced after she made her international debut at 14..
Former Matlida Lisa Casagrande. Supplied

A VERSATILE and assertive midfielder, former Matildas player Lisa Casagrande is regarded as one of Australia's best female soccer players.

Now 41, Casagrande's first match for the Matildas came against Japan in 1994 when she was only 14 years old.

A year later she scored in a 3-2 win over Brazil.

Casagrande featured at two FIFA Women's World Cups and became the youngest player to reach 50 international caps, finishing at 22 with a total of 64 international appearances and 13 goals.

She represented Australia in the 1995 World Cup, scoring in Australia's 1-4 loss to USA.

As the first woman to receive an Australian Institute of Sport scholarship, Casagrande was invited to train with the male AIS team in 1994.

A skilful player who scored regularly in the mid-1990s for Australia against sides like South Korea, Canada, and Netherlands., Casagrande bagged four goals during the 1998 World Cup qualifying matches, and one goal in pre-World Cup matches against Canada.

Casagrande was also the top scorer in 1998-99 in the national women's league for Canberra Eclipse.

She played in all of Australia's matches at the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup and scored a goal against the United States in the qualifications.

The men's USA Olympic coach invited Casagrande to join the University of Portland football team and assisted Portland make the final four in 2000 and 2001.

Selected for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the Matildas failed to place.

She played for the Goonellabah Football Club (1995-1996), the Northern NSW Pride (1996-1997) and the Canberra Eclipse (1997-1999)

The Football Federation Australia named her in its "Teams of the Decade" for 1990-1999 and in 2015 she was inducted into their Hall of Fame.

 

18. Mitchell Aubusson

Mitchell Aubusson of the Roosters during the NRL First Qualifying Final match between the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at the SCG in Sydney, Friday, September 13, 2019. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Mitchell Aubusson. JOEL CARRETT

FORMER Ballina student, Mitchell Aubusson, plays as a second-row, centre and lock for the Sydney Roosters in the National Rugby League.

In October a knee injury forced Aubusson, 32, to watch most of the Sydney Roosters' NRL grand final back-to-back win from the sidelines after he left the field in the 13th minute after he struggled to get up from a try-saving tackle on Canberra second-rower Elliot Whitehead.

It was a third grand final win for Aubusson, who was part of the Roosters' premiership-winning teams in 2013 and 2018.

Aubusson played his first grand final in 2010 and has just completed his 13th season in the NRL.

In August he signed a one-year contract extension.

He is the third most-capped player in the Roosters' 111-year history behind Luke Ricketson (301 games) and Anthony Minichiello (302).

Aubusson attended Xavier Catholic College Ballina and in 2005 he was selected for and played played for the Australian Schoolboys team and also played for NSW Country.

Aubusson was part of the Roosters sides who won three 3 consecutive minor premierships in 2013, 2014 and 2015 but failed to reach the grand final in the latter two seasons.

In 2017, Aubusson made 25 appearances for the club as the Roosters made the preliminary final but fell short of a grand final appearance losing to North Queensland 29-16.

In 2018, he was part of the side that won their fourth minor premiership in six years. and played in the 2018 NRL Grand Final in which the Sydney Roosters defeated Melbourne 21-6 winning their 14th premiership.

The younger brother of former Rooster James, Aubusson is a three-time recipient of the Roosters' prestigious James Mathews Award for Clubman of the Year (2011, 2015, 2016).

 

17. Justin Harrison

Justin Harrison of Classic Wallabies against Darling Downs Over 35s Barbarians at Gold Park, Sunday, June 10, 2018.
Justin Harrison of Classic Wallabies against Darling Downs Over 35s Barbarians at Gold Park, Sunday, June 10, 2018. Kevin Farmer

THE decision to join the Southern Cross University rugby team to make friend when he moved to Lismore to study marine science, led James Harrison to an international career.

Starting out in SCU's Baby Rats team, his natural skills saw Harrison promoted into the Gold Rats squad, where the coach must have thought all his dreams had come true.

Harrison then soon moved to Tuggeranong Vikings Rugby Union Club in Canberra and he made the 1994 Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Under-21s and then the Australian Universities team.

The following year, he played in the Australian U21s team and made his debut for the ACT against New South Wales.

Harrison made his Super 12 debut with the Brumbies in 1997.

In 2001 he made his international début as Australia took on the British and Irish Lions in the third and final test of the 2001 series.

By now he had switched courses and universities and that year graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Sports Administration at the University of Canberra.

A veteran of the 2003 Rugby World Cup, Harrison joined the New South Wales Waratahs at the beginning of 2004 for two seasons before moving to the northern hemisphere to play for Ulster.

He played 25 games for Ulster, 19 of those in the Celtic League and 6 in the Heineken Cup.

At the end of the 2008 season, Harrison moved to Bath Rugby then in November 2009, it was announced that Harrison would return to play for the Brumbies in 2010 on a one-year deal, as coverage for Peter Kimlin.

In July 2010 it was announced that Harrison would become forwards coach at Brumbies, agreeing a two-year deal with the club

Harrison, 45, is currently head coach for RC Narbonne in France.

 

16. Pauline Menczer

LEGEND: Former World Women's Surfing Champion Pauline Menczer.
Pauline Menczer. Chruistian Morrow

THERE are not many surfers with the grit and formidable determination which accompanied the powerful athletic grace and style of world champion surfer Pauline Menczer.

The living embodiment of Shakespeare's Hermia,"though she be but little she is fierce," Menczer's competitive record includes winning 20 major surf events, including the 1988 World Women's Amateur Championship, 1993 World Women's Surf Championship and WQS champion in 2002.

These titles are all the more remarkable in that Menczer achieved these results without major sponsorships and while battling bouts of crippling rheumatoid arthritis.

Now living in Brunswick Heads with her fiancee Samantha, in 2018 Menczer was honoured by the sport that for a long time had overlooked her qualities in the surf when she was inducted into Surfing Australia's Hall of Fame.

Raised at Bronte, by 13 she was a Bondi grommet and determined to enter surfing competitions, so funded her amateur career by collecting aluminium cans, baking cakes and selling toffees at high school.

Possessed by a powerful, athletic style and no shortage of courage, she won her way to a berth in the world amateur championships in Puerto Rico in 1988 and came home world champion, at just 18.

The win gave her the confidence to launch a pro career and get a coach in Steve Foreman, who helped her take on her idols Wendy Botha and Pam Burridge.

Throughout the late 80s and early 90s Menczer raised the bar in the women's pro scene and kept challenging the likes of Lisa Andersen, Burridge and Layne Beachley.

Menczer, 48, moved to Byron when she was 22 and she and her partner Sam now live in Brunswick Heads.

 

15. Gary Elkerton

The power surfing that drove Gary Elkerton to second place on the world tour on three occasions hasn't diminished with age.
Gary Elkerton.

FORMER world surfing tour three-time runner-up Gary "Kong" Elkerton is regarded as the best surfer never to win a world title.

The Ballina-born natural-footer, who grew up in Byron, moved to the Sunshine Coast when he was 11.

He spent many years at sea working on his Dad's prawn trawler, ranging up and down the Great Barrier Reef, but it was wave-riding not seafood that captured his attention.

By 1980, he had achieved significant success as a competitive junior surfer during his breaks from the trawler, so much so that he won his first of several Queensland titles.

Encouraged by sponsorships from emerging surf labels Quiksilver and Rip Curl, the Elkertons encouraged their son to pursue a career as a surfer.

So the highly talented amateur with a powerful quench for big waves turned professional as a 17-year-old in 1984 and stepped off the world championship tour 15 years later.

His final Tour highlight was at Grajagan in '96 where he beat rising super star Kelly Slater in the semi-final by scoring a perfect 10-point ride.

Elkerton won many prestigious amateur and pro-am titles around Australia throughout the years 1980-1984, including numerous Queensland Junior and Opens, the Cue Cola and JJJ Pro Juniors, The Jesus Classic Pro-Am and the Australian Open Amateur.

Along the way he showed he was one of the few non-Hawaiians who could match them in massive waves when he picked up two Hawaiian Triple Crown Champions, multiple Sunset Beach and Pipeline Masters Champion.

Elkerton was runner-up world champion in 1987, 1990 and 1993 but took three World Masters Champion titles in 2000, 2001 and 2003.

In 2009 Elkerton was inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame.

 

14. Matt King

NRL player and former Kangaroo Matt King watches local junior rugby league players taking part in the second annaul Matt King Shield at Casino on Friday.

Photo Doug Eaton / Richmond River Express Examiner
Matt King. Doug Eaton

TALENTED player turned coach, Matthew King, was a potent centre who played New South Wales State of Origin and was an Australian international representative.

Born in Casino in 1980, King won a first grade premiership at Brothers under current coach Michael Woods and played all his juniors at the Casino Cougars.

In 2000, he was signed by the North Sydney Bears where he worked his way through the grades at the club playing in both Jersey Flegg and reserve grade.

King suffered a serious shoulder injury in 2002 while playing off the bench for the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks' reserve grade side and then quit NRL aged 22.

By 2003 he returned to NRL and signed with the Melbourne Storm's feeder club, Brisbane Norths, where he played for nearly a year before being selected to make his début against the St George Illawarra Dragons in round 24.

In 2005 he was called up for his first major representative honour, being selected for the NSW State of Origin side for all three games and in the decider he became the 9th player (and 4th New South Welshman) to score a hat-trick.

King was selected to play for the Australian national team on the wing in the 2007 ANZAC Test match against New Zealand, scoring a try in the Kangaroos' 30-6 victory.

After playing 91 games at the Storm between 2003-2007 he signed a lucrative four-year deal with Warrington Wolves in the English Super League and won the 2009 and 2010 Challenge Cups with Warrington Wolves.

He was also named at centre in the 2010 Super League Dream Team.

After he returned to the NRL in 2012, King finished his career at South Sydney, where he retired after the following season and joined the team's coaching staff, contributing to their winning the 2014 NRL premiership.

He returned home to play a handful of first grade games with the Casino Cougars in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League in 2014.

Currently an assistant coach at the Sydney Roosters, King also works as a guest commentator on Fox Sports.

 

13. Sam Trimble

Sam Trimble
Sam Trimble. Contributed

REGARDED as one of the best cricketers to not play a Test match for Australia, Lismore-born Sam Trimble was a formidable opening batsman.

Trimble who passed away in July, grew up at Booyong playing in inter-district competitions on his way to play for Queensland where he moved to maximise his chances of playing first class cricket.

Few have come closer to playing a test match; Trimble was 12th man for the first Test against the West Indies in Jamaica in 1965 and he also captained an Australia Second XI to New Zealand in 1969, making a double century.

A Life Member of Queensland Cricket, Trimble was the only member selected in its Team of the 20th Century who did not play Test cricket.

His path was blocked at international level by the likes of Bill Lawry and Bob Simpson, despite regularly being among the leading scorers for Queensland.

The Sheffield Shield centuries which are so elusive to modern players came readily to Trimble in 1963-64 (five), 1964-65 (three) and 1965-66 (three).

Trimble's 144-match first class career saw him harvest 10,282 runs at 41.00.

His Shield record for Queensland returned 8647 runs at 39.85 including 22 centuries.

Trimble possessed a first-class record of runs for Queensland of 9465 at 40.80 from 133 games, which meant he was the State's all-time leading runs-scorer until eventually eclipsed by Stuart Law and Martin Love.

After his career he ran the indoor nets at the 'Gabba in Brisbane and the sports field at Bexhill was named in his honour.

Trimble was generous with his advice and encouraged all athletes in the sport, providing meticulous and enthusiastic coaching.

In the 1990s he worked with Ian Healy to assist him to improve his batting for Australia.

 

12. David Kennedy

TIGHT GRIP: David Kennedy holds on to Freckles Brown at the Bundaberg Recreational Precinct Rodeo.
Photo: Paul Donaldson / NewsMail
David Kennedy. Paul Donaldson BUN260915PBR3

IT'S eight of the most dangerous seconds in one of the toughest sports in the world.

Bull-riding requires more than luck and fitness and while it may not be as big here -- or as well paid -- as it is in the United States, Kyogle-born David Kennedy showed he was a champion on both sides of the world.

A shed builder from Kyogle, Kennedy made his first ride at age 11 in his home town and spent spent 13 years riding before bursting onto the Professional Bull Rider scene in 2008 at the Troy Dunn International in Townsville, where he qualified for his first of many Australian National Finals.

A key member of Australia's Professional Bull Riders World Cup Team, Kennedy was the only athlete to have won four times and was previously the only competitor to win it for a third time in 2012.

And he helped them recognised internationally when he was part of the Australian team who took out third place at the Professional Bull Riders World Cup in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Kennedy won the title back-to-back in 2009 and 2010 before heading to the US to compete the following year.

He became enamoured with the sport as an 11-year-old growing up on the family farm outside of Grevillea, near Kyogle, after his father told him to try riding a calf after he complained of being bored.

In 2011 he was named the Kyogle sportsperson of the year, in 2014 won his fourth Professional Bull Rider Australian title.

The 2015 Troy Dunn Invitational was especially special to four-time Australia Champion David Kennedy, who nodded his head for the last time in his career in front of a vocal Townsville crowd.

 

11. Tyler Wright

Tyler Wright of Australia, current World No.1 on the Jeep Leaderboard and defending WSL Women's World Champion pictured with the WSL Title Trophy at the Maui Women's Pro where she has a chance to second consecutive WSL World Title.
Tyler Wright. Kelly Cestari

TWO-time World Champion Tyler Wright made everyone sit and take notice when, as a 14-year-old wildcard, she became the youngest surfer in history to win a Championship Tour event at the 2008 Beachley Classic in Sydney.

Tyler was considered a surfing prodigy, being one of several surfing siblings including brothers Mikey and Owen, who are also on the pro tour.

Currently all three surfers have been sidelined from the surf due to injury.

While Tyler competed all over Australia for years as junior, it was the Beachley Classic where she out-surfed several elite athletes twice her age and experience that made her win all the more significant.

Three years later she joined the Tour full-time and showed her sublime surfing with a finals appearance at the Roxy Pro.

In 2013 Wright was the runner-up to Hawaiian Carissa Moore and in 2014 she was again the bridesmaid, this time to fellow-Aussie, Stephanie Gilmore.

In 2016 Wright won five events to secure her first World Title.

A year later, despite a knee injury, Wright made an incredible move from underdog to top-cat in the final two events of the season to claim the crown.

In 2018 Wright contracted influenza in Africa and has been unable to compete due to significant post-viral symptoms.

In March this year she confirmed her return to the WCT would be delayed while she recovered.

Meanwhile, in 2015, Owen suffered a severe head trauma resulting in a brain injury at Pipeline on the North Shore of Hawaii and has yet to return to competitive surfing.

Earlier this year Mikey injured his back and is still in recovery.