Norm Provan was Inducted into The Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2015 as a Athlete Member for the sport of rugby league.
“Sticks” Provan was a key component of one of the greatest winning streaks ever achieved in any elite sport in Australia, St George’s 11 consecutive premierships from 1956 to 1966, playing in the first 10 of them.
A strongly-built (193cm and 99kg) second-row forward who was a non drinking fitness disciple, he started in 1951 and accumulated what is still the club record of 256 first grade games, in which he scored 63 tries and 191 points. He also played for New South Wales 19 times and in 14 tests and two world cup matches for Australia between 1954 and 1960. His representative career was cut short by family priorities and business commitments.
His last game before retirement was the 1965 grand final in which the Dragons beat South Sydney 12-8 in front of 78,065, which is still the Sydney Cricket Ground’s attendance record. He played finals football in 15 consecutive seasons from 1951 and in 11 grand finals, an Australian rugby league record.
In the modern day it is almost unimaginable that the player-coach role once existed. Provan not only held both jobs at St George from 1962-65 he also took the Dragons to four premierships, winning 66 of 81 matches for a remarkable success rate of 81 per cent. Later, he coached the Dragons again in 1968, Parramatta in 1975 and Cronulla-Sutherland in 1978-79, taking his overall coaching record to 123 wins from 180 matches at 68 per cent. He guided Parramatta to the pre-season Cup, the club’s maiden first-grade title, and to within one game of what would have been its first grand final, while in 1978 Cronulla and Manly drew in the grand-final with Manly winning the playoff three days later. The following year Cronulla went on to win the Amco Cup under Norm’s coaching.
A life member of St George, Provan was named in the second row of the Australian Rugby League and NSW Teams of the Century, Inducted into the Rugby League Hall of Fame and named on a list of Australia’s 100 greatest players.
He was also immortalised in newspaper photographer John O’Gready’s famous photograph of him embracing Western Suburbs captain and dual international Arthur Summons, both of them caked in mud at the end of the 1963 Grand Final. The image, known as The Gladiators, is now perpetuated as the NRL premiership trophy.