Terence "Terry" John Lamb OAM, (born 15 September 1961) is an Australian former rugby league player of the 1980s and 90s. Lamb played 349 games (a competition record), with Wests (1980-1983), and Canterbury (1984-1996). Lamb was known for his support of the ball-carrier - his ability to be in the right place at the right time netted him 164 tries. He also kicked 386 goals and 44 field goals, for 1442 points in first grade. He played for New South Wales in State of Origin and Australia. Lamb holds the distinction of being the only player to appear in every match on a Kangaroo Tour.
On the 25th May 1980, Lamb made his first grade premiership debut for Wests against Balmain Tigers at Lidcombe Oval. Lamb scored two tries in the Magpies' comprehensive 25-12 victory. Lamb scored 9 tries in his debut season and was edged out for the innagural Dally M Rookie of the Year award by team-mate Jim Leis who would go on the Australian 1980 Tour of New Zealand. Lamb formed a great scrumbase combination that season with Alan Neil (brother of Michael Neil) and Lamb showed hope to Wests fans that life after Tommy Raudonikis would be good.
Lamb's form in the early stages of the 1981 season was outstanding and won him selection in the NSW State of Origin side. Lamb was called in at the last moment for Mick Pattison and only arrived in Brisbane on the day of the match. The 19-year-old Lamb acquitted himself well despite the brutal mauling he copped from Wally Lewis with Queensland coming back to win 22-15.
The 1982 season was a successful one for Wests and Lamb where his end of season form caught the eyes of the Australian selectors and he was selected for the 1982 Kangaroo Tour. Lamb ruled himself out of the tour as he already planned to marry his partner Kim. Australia swept all before them on the tour going through undefeated for the first time and becoming known as "The Invincibles".
Lamb's final season with Wests was in 1983 where the Magpies won the dreaded Wooden Spoon prize. In spite of this, he was awarded the Dally M Player of the Year Award. His prize winnings of $9,000 that night was $500 more than his contract that season. Lamb was on a contract of $17,000, which didn't compare to other players in Sydney at the time and it was slashed in half due to Wests poor financial situation.
Lamb settled nicely into Canterbury under the coaching of Warren Ryan and playing outside Steve Mortimer. Lamb's arrival did cause initial controversy when long-serving five-eighth Garry Hughes was dropped to reserve grade in what was to be his final season. Lamb's ability to back-up the ball-carrier came to the fore as he was the Sydney Premiership's leading tryscorer with 17. Lamb won a recall to the New South Wales State of Origin side for the 2nd match. He played well enough to be retained for the 3rd match despite the Blues losing, but withdrew due to injury. Lamb never won a junior premiership and he was closing in on one at senior level when the Bulldogs made the 1984 Grand Final against arch-rivals Parramatta Eels who were looking to win their 4th successive title. Canterbury took out the Grand Final 6-4 in a bruising game of football. Lamb was replaced with five minutes remaining due to a nasty gash above his head.
The 1985 season was a frustrating one for Lamb as he didn't win a position in the Blues side and was forced to miss the 1985 Grand Final due to a leg injury. Michael Hagan was named his replacement as Lamb sat on the bench as a non-playing reserve. Canterbury defeated St. George Dragons 7-6 to make it back-to-back titles.
Lamb's best year was most likely in 1986 where he achieved everything except land a 38m penalty goal attempt. Lamb played much of the opening rounds at halfback with captain Steve Mortimer suspended and his versatility of being able to play five-eighth, halfback and lock won him a recall to the New South Wales State of Origin side. Lamb was selected in all three matches from the bench and played a key role in the 3rd match where his performance was such that he won selection in the Australian Test side for the opening match against New Zealand. Lamb came on as a replacement for Dale Shearer and handled himself well on the right wing. Lamb got more time in the 3rd Test when he came as a replacement for the injured Wayne Pearce playing lock forward. His good form at Canterbury continued with the Bulldogs making a third successive Grand Final, once again playing Parramatta Eels. Lamb was the leading pointscorer where he would end up scoring 210 points. However, he missed a difficult penalty goal attempt in the final three minutes of the 1986 Grand Final. The Eels won 4-2 in an absolute gripping game. Lamb's form for the Bulldogs, New South Wales and Australia was more than enough to earn him selection on the Kangaroo Tour.
The first match against Wigan saw Lamb come on as a late replacement and he got his chance in the mid-week match against Hull Kingston Rovers where Lamb scored five tries and landed three goals for a total of 26 points. That match setup Lamb's tour where his support play gained the admiration of the English rugby league public.
Lamb on the 1986 Kangaroo Tour of Great Britain and France played in 20 matches comprising of 15 tour games and 5 Tests. He scored 19 tries and landed 20 goals for a tally of 116 points. Lamb was the leading tryscorer on the tour and was 2nd behind Michael O'Connor for points scored.
Ironically in such a long and glittering career where he set new levels for consistency and durability, all of Lamb's 7 Test matches came in the 1986 season. He would represent Australia in 1988 in the World Cup Final (which for some reason isn't classified as a Test match).
Lamb stood down from representative duties for the 1987 season and withdrew from the opening match after being selected. He did reluctantly make himself available for the final two Origin matches because the New South Wales Rugby League ruled him ineligible for club matches as he had yet passed the age. Lamb wasn't picked to play for the Blues, but was eligible for club matches where he for the second time finished as the premiership's leading try-scorer.
Canterbury defeated Canberra and Cronulla to make the Grand Final where they earned themselves a week off. Balmain influenced by Great Britain captain Ellery Hanley made a remarkable charge to the Grand Final coming from a playoff for 5th position victory to make the decider. The game itself panned out to be a comfortable victory for the Bulldogs but controversy struck in the 26th minute when Hanley was taken out in a tackle from Lamb. The incident to this day sparks heated and emotional debate and the incident ensured Lamb's time as coach of the Wests Tigers (half owned by Balmain) would never be a smooth one from the outset.
The first half was a struggle as Balmain led 6-4 with the Tigers scoring thanks a mistake from Bulldogs fullback Jason Alchin. Hanley was wrapped up low by Andrew Farrar and as he want to offload the ball Lamb finished off the tackle. He hit the ground in an awkward position and was out concussed. Lamb denied he deliberately took Hanley out and denied Canterbury went out of their way to target one individual. Lamb commented in his 1992 book that Balmain had important players such as Wayne Pearce, Ben Elias, Paul Sironen and Garry Jack.
Speaking to Inside Sport Magazine in August 2005, Hanley was asked:
What do you remember about that infamous tackle by Terry Lamb? "I don’t know if it was caused by Terry Lamb, or if it was just my head hitting the ground. I couldn’t tell you because I have never looked at it since. Some people have said Terry got a good shot on me. I suspect, however, it was more a case of my head hitting the ground. I like to think it was accidental. Afterwards, I was concussed and didn’t know where I was. I didn’t regain all my faculties immediately so, from a safety point of view, I had to come off the football field. It was a shame, but it is a physical game and sometimes things like that happen."
Have you spoken to Lamb since then? "No, I never have. I have never bumped into him. I have to say I respect him as a footballer. I don’t know him as a person, but by all accounts he is a good guy. Let me be clear that I have no malice towards him, none at all, regardless of the incident being deliberate or accidental."
The New South Wales Rugby League despite all the media pressure backed up Lamb's version of events and deemed he had no case to answer. Lamb was later selected in the Australian squad for the World Cup Final against New Zealand at Eden Park. Lamb was again selected as a replacement and came on the field after 20 minutes with captain Wally Lewis breaking his arm. It was to be Lamb's last match in Australian colours and he was finally given more than a chance to show his wares in the five-eighth position.
Canterbury endured a tough year in 1989 as the 'Wozzaball' era out Belmore way was coming to a rapid close. Lamb didn't have his best season where it was effected by injuries and off-field dramas. He played one final match for NSW with the Blues going down 36-6 in what was arguably Queensland's greatest ever side. He was out injured for the middle part of the season where he didn't have any opportunities to impress for selection for the New Zealand Tour.
After the 1989 season, Phil Gould was removed as coach with Chris Anderson taking over. The arrival of Anderson despite Gould's admiration for Lamb was to be the best thing to happen to for his career at the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs started like a house on fire under new captain Lamb. They faltered away mid-season when injuries including Lamb being out for four matches along with players deciding on their futures caused havoc.
As feared the Bulldogs lost Paul Langmack, Andrew Farrar, David Gillespie and Joe Thomas to Wests under former dual premiership-winning coach Warren Ryan. The club also lost Paul Dunn to Penrith and Jason Alchin to St George. The loss of those players proved to be in hindsight a great thing for Anderson, Lamb and Canterbury as the club was able to clean out the "Wozzaball" era and start a new era with Lamb firmly at the helm.
Lamb was a guaranteed selection for the 1990 Kangaroo Tour following the controversial omission of Wally Lewis as one of the two five-eighths along with Laurie Daley until he once again made himself unavailable. Cliff Lyons and Kevin Walters were both selected once Lamb confirmed his unavailability.
On a personal level, a chronic knee injury meant that Lamb would be highly restricted in his training but such was his respect at Canterbury by the players and management, he would be put on a different form of training to help him through the week. Lamb only did ballwork with the side and focused more on swimming and bike riding rather than field/track work. Lamb would be a week-to-week proposition throughout the 1990s.
Canterbury over-achieved in 1991 where they qualified in equal 5th position but went down 19-14 against arch-rivals Wests in a highly controversial game. The club under the leadership of Lamb developed as a competitive and entertaining force. Lamb's captaincy was an inspiration to a new generation of players coming through the club who would play a big part in the club's successful years ahead including Darren Smith, Dean Pay, Simon Gillies, Matthew Ryan and 1991 Rothmans Medal Winner Ewan McGrady. The 1991 season was the only time Lamb would be suspended throughout his career when he was sent off for an alleged headbutt on Manly's Geoff Toovey. He received four weeks for the offence.
Lamb missed the first five matches in 1992 but when he returned he enjoyed one of his finest individual seasons where Canterbury started to be tagged a 'one-man team' such was his standard. Lamb lifted the Bulldogs to the brink of the semi-finals and he was talked about as a possibility for the 1992 World Cup before making himself unavailable. Lamb came 2nd in the Dally M Awards for 1992 and confirmed his status as one of the game's champions.
A new wave of signings joined the Bulldogs in 1993 and the team that Lamb and Anderson moulded was coming to fruition. The Bulldogs won the Minor Premiership with Lamb making it a hat-trick of Dally M Five-Eighth of the Year awards and Anderson winning Dally M Coach of the Year. Canterbury crashed out in the semi-finals but it was a great effort by the club to get to a position of strength after being warm favourites for the 1991 Wooden Spoon.
Lamb broke his arm in 1994 when playing his 299th first grade match against Wests. Lamb would return to play his 300th match against Souths playing at Concord Oval and wearing the No.55 jumper. Concord was only used for three League games and Lamb wore No.55 as he was a late inclusion into the side. Lamb broke the record previously held by Geoff Gerard in the final round, which ironically was against his former club Wests at Campbelltown with both Canterbury and Wests jointly celebrating the occasion. Canterbury with their victory in Lamb's 304th first grade game won the Minor Premiership and defeated Canberra in the Major Semi-Final. The Raiders however won the Grand Final 36-12 in a big disappointment for Lamb and the Bulldogs.
Canterbury were never headed in the Grand Final defeating Manly 17-4 in the decider with Lamb plotting a crucial drop-goal to give them a seven-point lead. Lamb spent 10 minutes in the sin bin but that didn't stop his performance as he steered Canterbury to an impressive victory.
It was a sweet moment for Lamb and coach Chris Anderson after five years of planning went into this moment. The 1995 Grand Final was also the swansong for Chief Executive Peter Moore who retired from his post after 26 years of service. Moore would remain a member of the Canterbury Leagues Club board until 1998.
Lamb's planned retirement was shelved as he helped his beloved club for one more season to get through a sudden player departure caused by the Super League War. Lamb didn't seek the captaincy with Simon Gillies taking on that role and when Gillies was injured for the second half of the season, Lamb again opted not to be captain with Darren Britt taking the reins (in a sign of things to come). Lamb's career wound down on August 25th, 1996, when Canterbury defeated North Queensland 50-22 at Belmore Sports Ground. Lamb scored two tries and it was ironic that the start and end of his career saw him score a double.
The finest support player the game has seen retired with a record 349 first grade games next to his belt and 164 first grade tries next to his name, which was second at the time but now is in fourth spot with Andrew Ettingshausen finishing his career with 165 tries and Steve Menzies from the Manly Sea Eagles still playing (until the end of 2008) sitting second on 174 tries. In a strange twist, if Manly reach the 2008 NRL Grand Final and Menzies plays every game then he will surpass Lamb's league record of 349 games in the GF. Lamb set many records at Canterbury with the last one, a landmark of 123 tries being broken by winger Hazem El Masri, against the Newcastle Knights in 2006.
Lamb would be acknowledged in 2004 as the Canterbury five-eighth and captain in their 70-years greatest side.
The coaching success Lamb enjoyed in the lower grades saw him land the Wests Tigers head coaching position in 2001. However, the move to first grade proved to be a 'king hit' to his future coaching ambitions. This was a disastrous period for Wests Tigers, finishing in the bottom three in both 2001 and 2002. The club was plagued by player ill-discipline and suffered the embarrassment of the infamous finger-poking incident. Wests Tigers decided to revamp their coaching structure and replaced Lamb with Tim Sheens in 2003.
The salary cap dramas that were emerging at Canterbury saw Lamb return to the club and take up a position as director of the football club, which he held until the end of 2005. Lamb was rushed back to add stability through a tough time in the club.
Lamb coached the Cabramatta Jim Beam Cup side in 2005 and in 2006 accepted a marketing/coaching position at the Bulldogs. This appointment meant that Lamb stood down from his position as Football Club Director. Lamb returned to coaching again at the Bulldogs in 2008 when he was appointed as the Bulldogs NSW VB Cup Coach.