Western Suburbs First Grade 1980
Back Row: Bruce Gibbs, John Ribot, Ted Goodwin, Jack Jeffries, Bob Cooper, Wayne Smith, John Donnelly, Ron Giteau, Roy Master (Coach), Alan Neil
Front Row: Jeff Case, Wayne Buckley, Paul Merlo, John McLeod, Alan Latham, Peter Rowles, Warren Boland

1980 looked to be a looming disaster, as predicted by the Press, because of the loss of five top players; John Dorahy, Les Boyd and Ray Brown to Manly and Graeme O’Grady and Tom Raudonikis to Newtown. However, there were significant gains with Ted Goodwin, John Ribot, and Peter Rowles from Newtown, Paul Merlo from Penrith and Ken Hey from Parramatta. There were also sensational debuts from Jim Leis (“Rookie of the Year”) and Terry Lamb as well as regular First-Graders Tom Arber and Michael Duke. Warren Boland emerged as a great leader as newly appointed Captain.

Terry Lamb and John Ribot made sensational debuts in 1980

Against all the odds, Wests led the competition at different times and went to the semi-finals in third position. They lost the Preliminary Semi-Final to Canterbury 22-17, won the Minor Semi-Final against St George 13-7 and then were disappointingly bundled out in the Final, 41-5, to Eastern Suburbs. The U23s, with a young Trevor Cogger to the fore, also made the Final, going down 18-12 to Balmain. There were also some serious injuries during the season – Terry Leabeater (leg), John McLeod and Mark Beaven (fractured jaws) and Bruce Gibbs (a hand injury suffered in an industrial accident)

Training at Lidcombe Oval 1980

Jim Leis made the Australian team that toured New Zealand, while Bob Cooper made the NSW team against Queensland. Life Membership was deservedly awarded to Ron Watson. Significant milestones were reached by Ron Giteau and John Donnelly (100th games) and Neville Sinclair (200th game in all grades).

Neville Sinclair reached a 200-game milestone in all grades.

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