Top five try scorers in Australian first-grade history


Love Rugby League has taken a look at the top five try scorers in Australian first-grade history.

Ken Irvine

In a career starting in 1958 and ending in 1973, Irvine was one of Australia’s most feared wingers during spells at North Sydney and then Manly. 

He made his name at Sydney, scoring a ridiculous 171 tries in 176 matches and although he would never claim honours, he held the World Sprint 100 yards record in 1963 when he was timed at 9.3 seconds over the 91m. 

During his three-year spell with Manly from 1971, he did finally win a premiership in his second and third seasons, adding a further 41 tries. 

Irvine passed away in 1990 aged 50 after a long battle with leukemia. 

His tally of 212 tries in just 236 games is an Australian record for the most in a first-grade career and he remains the only player to score 200 tries in their club career. 

In 2004, he was inducted into Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame and in the next few years was named in the list of Australia’s 100 Greatest Players (1908–2007) – and Manly’s Dream Team.

In 2018, the award for the NRL’s top try scorer for the season was named the Ken Irvine Medal, with David Fusitu’a from the New Zealand Warriors being the inaugural winner (with 23 tries).

Billy Slater

Second on the list is legendary full-back Billy Slater, scorer of 190 tries in a career spent solely at Melbourne Storm. 

Slater retired in 2018 having set the record for the most NRL tries by a full-back and the most for a Storm player. 

Regarded as one of the best full-backs ever to play the sport, his talents got the honours they deserved with a Dally M Player of the Year Medal in 2011 as well as three Full-back of the Year awards.

During his career with Melbourne, he won two premierships in 2012 and 2017, and he showed his class on the biggest stages by winning the Clive Churchill Medal for man of the match in the latter. 

Steve Menzies

An unlikely player to appear given the majority of his career was played in the back-row but Steve Menzies scored 180 tries for Manly Sea Eagles and the Northern Eagles, the most by a forward in history. 

His first-grade Australian club career spanned 1993 to 2008 and played in five Grand Finals, winning two titles in 1996 and 2008.

This win came with Manly thrashing Melbourne 40-0 in Menzies 349th and final game, a joint-record with Terry Lamb and he capped this with a try as he did in their first Grand Final win. 

His 180 tries in 349 games are both club records at Manly but he also spent two years playing for Northern Eagles from 2000, where he scored a try in their final ever match – the club a result of a merger between Manly and North Sydney. 

Andrew Ettingshausen

Spending his entire Australian club career at the Cronulla Sharks, Ettingshausen scored 165 tries in 328 matches.

Playing predominantly as a centre but also at full-back and wing, his playing career did not yield any honours, with the Sharks losing in the Grand Final in 1997. 

He won the Minor Premiership with Cronulla in 1999 before his retirement after an 18-year career the following year. 

Terry Lamb

Lamb spent the majority of his career at the Canterbury Bulldogs after a spell at Western Suburbs and scored a total of 164 tries.

He made his Suburbs debut in 1980 and his final season three years later would be one of his best personally as despite the side winning the dreaded spoon, Lamb claimed the Dally M Player of the Year Medal. 

The half-back moved to the Bulldogs the following year where he would score 123 tries in 262 matches until he retired in 1996. 

Land finished his maiden season as the league’s joint-top try-scorer with 17 as Canterbury won the Grand Final, beating rivals Parramatta. 

In 1985, the Bulldogs made it back-to-back titles but Lamb missed the final through injury. However, he was back for their third straight final but missed a difficult penalty attempt as Parramatta got their revenge. 

In his 1995 season, the Bulldogs claimed another premiership as they defeated Manly as Lamb ended a career which saw him win a record seven Dally M Five-Eighth of the Year awards. 

The only active players in the top 20 are Brett Morris – seventh on the all-time list with 160 tries – Michael Jennings – joint 11th with 152 tries and Josh Morris – 20th with 141. 

By Sam Harris

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