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Greatest Rugby World Cup XV: Left-wing profiles – David Campese

Brash but brilliant, arrogant but awe-inspiring, David Campese had it all. The New South Wales-born wing lit up three World Cups for Australia, including the glorious 1991 campaign, and scored 64 tries in 101 appearances throughout a remarkable career.


Campese announced himself to the world in notorious circumstances, inadvertently deriding legendary New Zealand wing Stu Wilson in a pre-match interview before his international debut.

Campese was asked how it felt to be marking Wilson in his first ever Test, to which the cocky Australian responded, “Stu who?”

Campese later revealed he genuinely did know not of Wilson due to his rugby league background, yet it still caused a stir in New Zealand.

Nonetheless, Campese outplayed his older opponent during the match, using a tactic the Wallaby later coined the ‘goose step’.

He was part of the Wallabies side that recorded a Grand Slam tour of the Home Nations in 1984 and was a key player in the 1987 World Cup, where Australia made a disappointing semi-final exit.

The team bounced back four years later though, as did ‘Campo’ who was named Man of the Tournament as Australia clinched their first ever World Cup.

Campese was superb throughout, but his shining moment came in the semi-final victory over New Zealand where he scored a try and set up the other for Tim Horan with a blind throw over his shoulder now recalled as the ‘miracle pass’.

Campese was named World Player of the Year in 1992 and went on to play in his third and final World Cup in South Africa in 1995, where the Wallabies were dumped out by Rob Andrew’s stunning drop goal.

A controversial figure of immense quality, it’s safe to say there will never be another David Campese.

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