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- Brisbane Broncos
- Rugby League
Gorden James Tallis (born 27 July 1973) is an Australian former professional rugby league footballer of the 1990s and 2000s. A Queensland State of Origin and Australian international representative second-row forward, he captained both these teams as well as the Brisbane Broncos with whom he won the 1997, 1998 and 2000 Grand Finals, after starting his career with the St. George Dragons in Sydney. Nicknamed the "Raging Bull" for his on-field aggression, at the peak of his career Tallis was considered as the best second-row forward in the world and in 2008 was named in an Indigenous Australian rugby league team of the century. He is currently a commentator and pundit for the Fox Sports network. He served as a National Rugby League board member and was a member of the board of directors for the North Queensland Cowboys. Tallis also worked on the coaching staff of the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Tallis' father Wally played rugby league briefly for Leigh in the 1960s. Gorden Tallis was born in Townsville, North Queensland on 27 July 1973. There he played for the Centrals Tigers club.
Professional playing career
St George Dragons
Tallis moved to Sydney to make his first grade début in the Winfield Cup premiership for St. George on 29 August, 1992, aged 19. He was a reserve in St George's 1993 grand final loss to Brisbane. Tallis was used to good effect off the interchange bench during the 1994 season and also made his representative debut for the Queensland side in the final two State of Origin series games that year. In 1995 he was included in the Tongan squad for the 1995 World Cup but had to withdraw due to injury.
When the proposed Super League competition was put on hold in 1995, Tallis offered to buy out the final year of his contract with St George in order to join the Broncos. The Dragons declined the offer however, and subsequent court action held him to his original contract. Having already signed a Super League contract to play with Brisbane, the fiery North Queenslander caused controversy when he was the only player who chose to sit out the 1996 season rather than play a final year with St George. After having made 54 appearances for the Dragons, he left Sydney.
Gorden Tallis about to receive the ball during a Brisbane Broncos match in 2004.
Tallis returned to the game with the Broncos for the 1997 Super League season and was the most dominant forward in the competition, which culminated in Brisbane's crushing 26–8 win over the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in the Telstra Cup grand final. In addition to representing Queensland in the Super League Tri-Series competition, he made his international debut in the 1997 post season's Super League Test series against Great Britain, playing at second-row forward in all three matches.
In 1998 Tallis returned to St. George for the first time since his acrimonious split with the Saints and was pelted with garbage and insults and was loudly booed every time he touched the ball before his try secured a 30–18 victory. Brisbane went on to capture another premiership with Tallis scoring a try and winning the prestigious Clive Churchill Medal as the best and fairest player on-field in the club's 38–12 1998 NRL grand final win over the Canterbury Bulldogs. Tallis made his Australian Kangaroos Test debut in the second match of the Trans-Tasman series.
He continued his great personal form when chosen for the ANZAC Test in 1999 and spearheaded Queensland's State of Origin campaign in a historic tied series. However, the season ended with Brisbane's failure to defend its premiership and Tallis was ruled out of October's Tri-Nations competition because of injury.
2000 saw him score a try in Australia's 52–0 thrashing of New Zealand in the ANZAC Test, but after being sent off in the opening State of Origin match for verbally abusing referee Bill Harrigan, Tallis suffered the ignominy of a whitewash defeat (his public admission that the 'dead' third match of the series should be cancelled was a momentary lapse in judgment that may have indirectly contributed to the Blues' 56–16 win). If Tallis' stature as the most dominant forward in the game wasn't secure following Brisbane's 14–6 win over the Roosters in the 2000 NRL grand final, his four tries in Australia's 82–0 humiliation of Papua New Guinea before the 2000 World Cup, and his selection as Australian captain for the match against Russia (which resulted in a record 110–4 victory) did. In 2000, Tallis also received the Australian Sports Medal. Following Australia's World Cup victory, Tallis and teammate Shane Webcke wrote an open letter to players appealing for an end to scandalous behaviour amongst footballers which had been tarnishing the sport.
Having won the 2000 NRL Premiership, the Broncos traveled to England to play against 2000's Super League V Champions, St Helens R.F.C. for the 2001 World Club Challenge, with newly appointed captain Tallis playing at second-row forward in Brisbane's loss. Tallis captained a rookie Queensland team in the 34–16 win over New South Wales in the opening match of the 2001 State of Origin series and was named man-of-the-match. Soon after, he suffered a career-threatening neck injury in a club match against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles which revealed a spinal condition that required corrective surgery. While Tallis' season was over (despite the smokescreen of his naming on the Broncos' interchange bench for the club's preliminary final) he made a strong return to football in 2002. It was in the deciding match of the 2002 State of Origin series that Gorden Tallis performed a famous tackle on Blues fullback, Brett Hodgson, dragging him several metres and eventually tossing him out of the field of play like a rag-doll. Tallis' reaction later of giving the one-finger salute to a section of the crowd, right behind the northern try-line where Dane Carlaw's series-tying try was scored, became a major after-match talking point. Tallis gained some sympathy when it was revealed that he was objecting to an offensive sign about his mother. But many again raised questions about his capacity to captain Australia with debate raging over the choice between Tallis or Andrew Johns to succeed Brad Fittler. Days later Johns was chosen to lead the Kangaroos in the July Test against Great Britain. Tallis scored a try in Australia's 64–10 win in that match and was later named Test leader (in Johns' absence) for the one-off Test against New Zealand in October, which Australia also won 32–24.
In January 2003, Tallis' book Raging Bull was published. His ancestry and ethnicity has been the subject of many questions much to the bemusement of Tallis. In his book, Tallis addresses these questions;
"People ask me about my ethnic background. Newspapers pick me in their "fantasy" Indigenous and Aboriginal sides. To tell the honest truth, I haven’t worried too much about it. An auntie of mine did some research and she found that my great-grandfather came from North Western Ambrym in Vanuatu and my great-grandmother was from Loh Island in the Torres Strait. All we were ever told in my family was that we were Australians. My dad was born in Townsville and his dad was born in Bowen, so that makes us Australian and we’re proud of it. I have played in one Indigenous side though, the Redfern All Blacks, who won the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tournament in 1992. That was some side. We had Choc Mundine who was about 17, Tricky Trindall who was 25, and Wes Patten who was 19. People might have read a bit into me playing in that tournament but to me it was just a chance to play some footy with my mates."
Tallis is an Aboriginal-Torres Straight Islander, and he is also of Vanuatuan and Tongan descent.
At the end of 2003, Tallis, who was expected to lead Australia on the 2003 Kangaroo tour[ announced his retirement from representative football, but continued playing with the Broncos. In 2004 he started to feel more affected by his neck injury and took heed of the warning signs his body was emitting. He played his last official match in the 2004 semi-final for the Brisbane Broncos, fittingly in his hometown of Townsville, against the Cowboys, which the Broncos lost. At the time of his retirement, he held the Broncos' club record of most career tries for a forward.
During the 2007 season at the Broncos' 20-year anniversary celebration, the club announced a list of the 20 best players to play for them to date which included Tallis.
In 2010 Tallis was inducted into the Broncos official Hall of Fame.
In 2005 Tallis was appointed as one of News Ltd's members on the NRL board, replacing John Brass but stood down from the role in 2008, amid speculation that he will join the coaching staff of Catalans Dragons. He was a director on the board of the North Queensland Cowboys, a role he had to relinquish when he joined the South Sydney Rabbitohs as a forwards coach.He was brought in by Russell Crowe to add his knowledge and aggression to the team. Tallis commentates games for Fox Sports, as well as providing written columns for newspapers. Tallis has made his views on fighting clear on the Fox Sports broadcasts of Rugby League, stating that if a fight erupts, "he would run in, you would run in, we would all run in, because it's your mate getting bashed".
During the 2010 NRL season after it was announced that South Sydney Rabbitohs head coach John Lang would be retiring, incoming replacement coach Michael Maguire from the Wigan Warriors announced that Tallis' services as forwards coach were no longer required.
In 2016, Tallis was immortalized with a Gord-e-moji emoji keyboard, in the same vein as his contemporary Kim Kardashian's "KIMOJI". The app was developed for iOS by Devotion Digital in Sydney, with plans to roll out an Android version later in 2016.