Born Rupert John ‘Jack’ Rayner on 11 April 1921 at Coraki, Richmond River (near Lismore), Jack Rayner would become a legendary Captain-Coach of the Souths teams of the second golden era of the early 1950s.
He was discovered as a footballer while on active service in New Guinea during World War II. Playing Rugby League for his unit, his vigorous style was noticed by Eric Lewis - the lock forward in Souths’ 1932 premiership winning team and Australian representative.
Jack Rayner to friend, Eric Lewis
If we get out of this alive I’ll try out for South Sydney.
Rayner honoured his promise to his mate to try-out and at the relatively advanced age of 25, he impressed in the 1946 trials as a second row forward. He went on to play 195 games for the club, all in first grade.
It was 74 years ago when Rayner made his debut.