HARD FOUGHT: Former Wallaby great, Nathan Sharpe stands with Frillnecks player Tom Perkins and daughter Lucy at Gold Park Toowoomba.
HARD FOUGHT: Former Wallaby great, Nathan Sharpe stands with Frillnecks player Tom Perkins and daughter Lucy at Gold Park Toowoomba. Contributed

Perkins represents Downs

MORE used to facing the All Blacks or Springboks during decorated rugby careers, a Wallabies over-35s team laced on their boots at Gold Park in Toowoomba to prepare for a different challenge.

Standing in their way would be a highly competitive Downs Rugby over-35s Barbarians, consisting of some of the finest country Queensland players in the state.

One of those players was Dirranbandi's Tom Perkins.

A part-time halfback for the Frillnecks, Perkins said that the selection for the Down team was a rigorous process based on a combination of skill, longevity playing for Down Rugby and contribution to the league over many years.

Despite the experience and skill of the Downs side, age had not wearied an all-star Wallabies squad featuring all-time greats like Nathan Sharpe, Stephen Hoiles, Lote Tuqiri and Radike Samo.

"The selectors had picked a pretty good Downs team with only three players that hadn't played for the Queensland Country side, but we were nothing compared to the Wallabies players,” Perkins said.

"Especially some of the backs who would still be playing professional rugby overseas in places like Japan - they were slick.”

"We still did some pretty tough work up the middle and our boys matched them there but we couldn't go with them out wide.

The final score of 58-19 reflected the skill of the Wallabies but more importantly, the match was played to promote rugby union in the bush driven mainly by Stephen Hoiles; the Wallabies over-35s captain.

With just under 3000 parochial spectators, the game was a glowing endorsement for rugby in the region with the proceeds of the match being shared between Downs Rugby and the Australian Rugby Union.