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Mark Thomas wore the blue and white butcher stripes of Brothers and Tigers stripes in a glorious Brisbane career including three games for Queensland and three games for Australia in 1977.

The classy outside back had a swerve and pace that left plenty wondering 'what was that?'.

When Thomas touched the ball, Corbett Park or Lang Park was off their seats.

Mark Thomas Q&A

Can you remember your A grade debut for Brothers in 1976?

"In 1975 I was playing for St Brendan’s at Moorooka and John Bourke, the former Brothers hooker, said he’d take me over to Brothers at Grange for an opportunity. I didn’t even know where Grange was to be honest. Then in 1976 I played reserve grade for Brothers. I came across Murray Shultz in the centres and he did a lot of my tackling and I would stay outside him and he’d put me through gaps, so I was scoring tries in reserve grade and looking pretty good. I got to work with two great centres at Brothers - Shultz and Paul Beauchamp were both great. Alan Power got injured in A grade and I got my start. I played a couple of A grade games that year and then back to reserve grade, but I got told 'get right for 1977'."

So 1977 comes around and you start the year in A grade at Brothers; a trial against the Roosters was pivotal in kick starting the great season you were about to have.

"I spent the off-season in 1976/77 getting really fit and making that my focus. The Roosters came and played Brothers in a trial game at Corbett Park and I scored two tries against the Sydney premiers with Beetson, Fairfax, Schubert and Brass. That was a big moment for me."

Three games for Queensland in 1977. How did you find out you were going to play for Queensland?

"Barry Muir rang me and said I had been picked which was a massive deal for me to get rung by Barry Muir. I look at those New South Wales teams and my first game was against Mick Cronin, my second game against Steve Rogers. They were both unbelievable centres and I had only played seven A grade games. I was in the centres with Alan Smith for my debut and he was a great tackler. Then my second game I had Peter Leis inside me, which was great too. He was older than me by a bit but always helpful."

It’s May, you’ve played two games for Queensland and nine first grade games, now a Test debut versus New Zealand and you score in the 27-12 win. What can you remember about your debut?

"It all happened pretty quickly. It sounds funny now to only have played such a small amount of A grade games. I remember dad came to Sydney with me for the Test and I scored under the posts with my first touch. It was pretty special, that team was unreal. Eadie at fullback was a great player, Cronin in the centres. Cronin was great to play outside of, he’d just give you the ball when you needed it. I found the country players like Cronin good to deal with in the Australian side. Greg Veivers was a stand out for me. He was terrific and a great player for Queensland. He never played a bad game for Queensland. I remember in my first game he said 'anyone causes you any issues, come get me'. It was great having him as my Queensland and Australian captain."

Who gave you the most trouble in Brisbane; who did you look at the draw and say 'not again'?

"Bruce Astill was near impossible to get around, he was a great defensive centre for Souths and Queensland and Mark Payne too caused me some issues, but then I got to play with Payne at Easts too and he was great to play with at the Tigers. Redcliffe were always tough work, Obst and Leis were great players."

The move to the Tigers - what happened there?

"I had a lot of injuries and it was time to move and a change. I got to be coached by John Lang and he was great. I retired at 27 which seems super early by 2023 standards. I loved my time at the Tigers and I still live in the area."

Did you play with or against someone that you think would be a superstar in 2023?

"John Ribot, he was quick, he was big too. He played lock and wing - not too many players can do that - but I have no doubt Ribot would be playing today. In my first game for Queensland he was the goal kicker, so he was very skilful."

Is there something you know now you wish you knew in 1977?

"Weights, I would have loved to do some weights. I was pretty slight and only weighed 80 kilograms so it would have been nice to put on some size. Mark Harris was a massive man and the first time I saw him I just remember thinking 'he’s huge'."

Where is your Test and Queensland jumpers?

"My son has them, he loves old football stuff so he has the two of them framed together. It’s actually back at our house at the moment while he is doing some renos, but he keeps saying he wants it back. I am just looking after my jumpers for him."

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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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