John Donnelly


– 1986


Who was John Donnelly?

John "Dallas" Donnelly was an Australian professional rugby league footballer of the 1970s and 80s. An Australian Kangaroos and New South Wales Blues representative, he played for the Western Suburbs Magpies between 1975 and 1984 in the New South Wales Rugby League premiership.

Donnelly who was also commonly known by his nickname "Dallas", referring to his size, came from the New South Wales country town of Gunnedah, representing New South Wales and winning the award for country player of the year in 1973. He moved to Sydney's Western Suburbs club in 1975 and quickly gained a reputation that grew to almost cult status for his fiery on-field play as well as his off-field larrikin persona.

With Wests, Donnelly formed part of one of the most dominant forward packs in Australian Rugby League history under coach Roy Masters in the late 1970s, earning test selection for Australia in 1978 against New Zealand. By the 1980s however, he was plagued by increasing weight problems and constant suspensions, subsequently moving to English club Southend Invicta for the 1985-1986 seasons.

Donnelly returned to Australia in 1986 immediately after his season in England where he took on a position as Captain/Coach of the Byron Bay side. However, Donnelly who suffered from epilepsy throughout his career, drowned after suffering an epileptic seizure while surfing in the beach at Byron Bay, New South Wales.

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Also known as
  • John "Dallas" Donnelly
Byron Bay

on July 23, 2013


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