Arthur Clues and Vince Karalius

Arthur Clues came to England from Australia in 1947 to play for Leeds where his larger-than-life persona proceeded to relieve some of the post-war gloom for a generation of Rugby League fans. Clues signed for the club after making his international debut during the first post-war test series, in 1946, and arrived at Headingley in the following January. He quickly became a cornerstone of the Loiners pack, as the club looked to build a new side following the war. Renowned as a fearsome competitor, he is also regarded as one of the most talented footballing second row forwards the game has seen. But after seven seasons with Leeds he was placed on the transfer list, amid much protest from the Headingley supporters, and sold to local rivals Hunslet, where he played out his career.

He renewed his relationship with Leeds after retirement from the game, joining the club’s Leeds Football Committee in 1958, and remained a familiar and immensely popular figure at Headingley for the rest of his life. His exploits on the field, and anecdotes off it, have since become part of Rugby League folklore and the affection with which he is still held in his adopted city is reflected on the current Rhinos website, where he is described him as ‘one of the finest sporting ambassadors the club has ever had, his fifty year association as player and then emissary marked out a unique and special bond.’

Vince Karalius was another giant of the game in the 1950s whose exploits have become part of Rugby League folklore. Born in Widnes in 1932 he first played Rugby League for the West Bank amateur club in his home town, before signing to become a professional with St Helens in 1951. A fitness fanatic, whose dedication to training in many ways pre-empted the culture of modern conditioning for the sport, Karalius built a reputation as one of the strongest and most ferocious tacklers in the game. Although he was also a deft ball handler, it was his brutal, but fair, assaults on the Australian forwards during the 1958 tour that cemented his place as one of the sport’s greatest ever forwards. His performances in the Test matches earned Karalius the nickname ‘the wild bull of the pampas’ as Great Britain won the series by two matches to one. An article in Rugby League Journal summed up the aura that still surrounds him.

‘To mention the name Karalius is a symbol to all those players who played either alongside or against him, and all those spectators who remember seeing him in action – a symbol of toughness, strength, aggression, ferocity and determination in the days when Rugby League was built on a platform of physical confrontation.’

But, as with many of the sport’s toughest competitors there was another side to Karalius which Alex Murphy touched upon in the following tribute he gave when his former team mate was inducted into the Rugby League Hall of Fame in 2000. ‘He’s the hardest player I have seen on a rugby field – and the nicest and most gentlemanly guy to meet off it,’ he said.