Bryan Niebling at the 2019 Legends of League match with MP Deb Freklington.
Bryan Niebling at the 2019 Legends of League match with MP Deb Freklington.

League legend a Mustang through and through

PLAYING A-grade for the Murgon Mustangs was the pinnacle as a kid for Bryan Niebling, who knocked back a deal with Wayne Bennett in 1979 to continue playing bush footy.

Niebling played more than 130 professional rugby league games, represented his state and country, but will always call the Mustangs his team.

Niebling's career began when he pulled on the boots for Murgon as a junior, and he said back then making A-grade was everything.

"When I went from U18s to A-grade I remember putting on my jersey for the first time and crying - it meant that much back then," Niebling said.

"To play for your town, regardless of the sport, was a huge honour.

"The South Burnett competition was really strong and there were a number of players selected to represent the state."

Niebling was approached by Wayne Bennett in 1979 with an offer to join Souths Brisbane along with Kingaroy halfback Brad Tessman.

Tessman took up the offer, but Niebling made a handshake deal with Bennett that would have him play the season with the Mustangs before moving to Souths in 1980.

The Souths and Valleys fought out the 1979 grand final, with Valleys winning 26-0.

Another South Burnett product, Tommy Duggan, who was pivotal in the Valleys' victory took Niebling into the dressing sheds after the game and convinced him to join Valleys.

After several impressive seasons, Niebling went on to play for Queensland and made his State of Origin debut in 1983, which he followed up by playing all three Tests for Australia against Great Britain the following year.

He was awarded the Courier Mail's best and fairest league award twice and was the joint winner of the Rothmans Gold Medal in 1986.

After playing rugby league all over the world, Niebling said he still got tingles running out for a game.

"That feeling never changes - getting in the dressing shed your mind goes back to the good old days," he said.

"It's great to still be playing footy and to be involved with something like the Legends of League.

"The calibre of players coming out for the weekend is really high and it should be a great game of footy."

Rugby league has a way of bringing people together according to Niebling, who said the Legends of League match was a great concept.

"With the drought a lot of people are doing it tough and it's a good change of scenery for country people," he said.

"Rugby league brings the community together and last year's game was well supported by everyone.

"I am really looking forward to getting back out there - it's a great event for the Cherbourg community."

At 60 years of age, Niebling will once again don the green and gold for the Australian NRL Legends v Cherbourg Hornets Legends match at Jack O'Chin Oval this Saturday at 6.30pm.

South Burnett

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