Another one to add to in depth series collection as we focus on one of rugby league’s most prolific and skilful players, Steve Renouf…
The word ‘impact’ is certainly thrown around a lot in sport and defined as something that has marked effect or heavy influence on someone or even say something. We talk about those specific players who make a difference in a variety of different forms from their scoring ability to just their sheer presence on the pitch. By making that impact it can be perceived to be sudden or even over a length of time and throughout his career the ‘try scoring machine’ that is Steve Renouf displayed exactly why he was the perfect impact player.
Born in Morgon, Queensland and of Aboriginal and European descent, Renouf developed his skills as a player with the Brisbane Broncos. As he continuously went up through the junior ranks, Renouf went on to make his first team debut in 1989 for the Queensland based team in the NSWRL Premiership, which at the time was the premier competition for rugby league in Australia. A quiet and frustrating first two seasons with the Broncos only saw Renouf make a total of 14 appearances to go with two tries.
However, by the 1991 NSWRL season, Renouf in his trademark headgear began to develop as a future star for both Brisbane and Queensland. After two short seasons with the Broncos, the centre’s profile continued to rise as he scored 27 tries over the next two seasons. Even despite being diagnosed with diabetes, he only continued to blossom throughout the years as a formidable Broncos side sealed themselves as the NSWRL and NRL’s top dogs, winning four titles throughout the 1990s.
The first of four coming in 1992, saw Renouf cap off a great season as the Broncos top try scorer for the second season running with an astounding 98-metre effort in the NSWRL Grand Final. As they would be backed up against their own in goal area, a pass from the captain Allan Langer and step inside from Renouf saw the centre run the length of the field to a complete a remarkable Grand Final try. The incredible effort saw Brisbane come out on top for the first time in a Grand Final with a 28-8 against St. George. After a maiden title win, the Bronco’s new try magnet received his first callup to the Australia squad for the 1992 World Cup final against Great Britain at Wembley stadium. A career that was on the rise kept going strength to strength as Renouf scored the only try of the match, winning Australia’s sixth World Cup in the process.
The 1993 season brought with it even more success for Renouf with 16 tries in 18 appearances and a second consecutive title with another win against St. George in the Grand Final once again. Now, five seasons into his rugby league career, Renouf would start to claim records as his 23 tries in the season became a club record. By 1997, the ‘Super League War’ broke out in Australia, with the Broncos becoming one of the last to sign with the new Australian league. The one and only season once again saw Renouf produce moments of magic as a hat trick in the 1997 Super League Grand Final against Cronulla secured the Queensland sides third title in six seasons.
A whole new dynamic was brought to Australian rugby league in 1998 as the formation of the NRL came to fruition and once again with the Broncos winning the inaugural competition and securing back to back titles for the second time in the 1990s while on the back of another prolific season from the speedy centre. A total of 20 tries in 26 appearances from the Maroons man brought a fourth title to the city of Brisbane.
Between 1989 and 1999, Renouf’s performances will live long in the memory of Brisbane and Queensland fans alike, winning four premiership titles and two State of Origins. A total of 142 tries in 183 appearances on top of this all in all reinforced his stance as one of the club’s greatest players and by 2006 his performances for the club gave him a place in the Brisbane Bronco’s hall of fame.
After 11 seasons with the Broncos, he finally made the move over to Super League, joining Wigan in 2000. Despite only two seasons with the club, Renouf showcased how he had not lost a step by once again becoming a true impact player for the Lancashire side becoming a cult hero amongst the Warrior faithful in the process.
Despite the lack of silverware in his short stint of two seasons with the Cherry and Whites, his presence was invaluable as he took Wigan to two consecutive grand finals. The former Queensland representative’s try-scoring exploits certainly followed him from down under as he went on to make 59 appearances for the club, scoring 43 tries.
Renouf proved time and again he was the man to make a difference. An electric player capable of producing moments of magic on the field with incredible acceleration and bucket loads of confidence became a true ambassador for the game as even after retiring from the game he looked to focus on looking out for the future generation of rugby league players, calling for concussed players to sit out for a month.
Renouf proved over his career that he was never one to shy away from adversity overcoming head injuries and type 1 diabetes and, in the end, proved himself as one of Australia’s and rugby league’s greatest and most gifted centres.