The long and rich history of Featherstone Rovers Rugby League Football Club

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Brett Daunt

Filling the shoes of a great player who has recently departed is never an easy task. The weight of expectation and onerous comparisons are inevitable, but Rovers had to face up to just that problem at the start of the 1992/93 season, and filled the void left by Deryck Fox with their first notable imported half-back.  Rovers found themselves back in the second division without their star scrum-half and captain, and without a coach either. Unusually for our club both vacancies were filled by Australians, as Steve Martin (ex-North Sydney) took over as coach and the club signed Brett Daunt from Brisbane Valleys (now Fortitude Valley Diehards) in the Queensland competition. The Valleys club most famous son was Wally Lewis, but Daunt arrived in England as a relatively unknown quantity.

Operating at a lower level gave him a gentler introduction than he could’ve expected in the top flight. Regardless of this,  it obviously took the side some time to adjust to life without Fox. Brett made his debut on 27th of September in a win against Carlisle. In the same game, Rovers other import that year Wayne Taeketa also debuted. Despite the previous year’s relegation, Rovers had a phenomenal team, with Bibb at the back, and a three-quarter line of Butt, Manning, Newlove and Simpson, which made mincemeat of opposition defences. From November to march Brett was part of a team which won a club record 14 consecutive league games. He didn’t lead the line in the way Fox did, but was an intelligent distributor and had a good short kicking game. He also had pace off the mark and backed up well, which brought him a number of tries. He first partnered Brendon Tuuta, then Martin Pearson, then Francis Maloney at half-back in his first year. By the time Rovers won the Championship Daunt had solidified his place in the team in his quiet unassuming manner. The year finished in tremendous fashion with Rovers winning the Premiership Trophy in front of a large crowd at Old Trafford.
Rovers enjoyed a reasonably successful return to the top flight, as the season started with Daunt and Maloney in cracking form as Wigan were crushed in an early league fixture. When Maloney was sold to Warrington, Daunt paired up again with the prolific Martin Pearson, and the Aussie must have been reasonably satisfied with his year’s work. But the sale of Paul Newlove had given Rovers the funds for big-money signings and in the summer of 1994 Daunt’s contract was not renewed and the scrum-half shirt went to Mark Aston, newly signed from Sheffield. Daunt went back to Queensland with the best wishes of the club for two years creditable work. He played a total of 61 games and scored 18 tries.

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