It is with great sadness the Sharks inform of the sudden passing of former Sharks player Chris Wellman, aged 64.
Wellman passed away in his sleep of a suspected heart attack at his home at Cabarita near Tweed Heads on Sunday, May 3.
Tough, skilful and uncompromising, Wellman was highly rated as a player during what was perhaps the most physical era rugby league has known.
A member of the 1973 Sharks Grand Final team, he was the perfect side kick at five eighth for captain-coach and British International half back Tommy Bishop, in a team that went oh-so-close to claiming the Cronulla clubs its first premiership.
Wellman was graded by the Sharks from the local Sutherland club in 1969 and went on to play 132 games for Cronulla over five seasons, with 81 of those appearances in first grade.
In emphasising his abilities, in 2006 Wellman was named by the club as the five eighth in the Sharks ‘Dream Team’ a squad selected by a panel of former and current officials as being the best players to pull on the blue, black and white jersey in the history of the Cronulla club (*see team list below).
In the book written by Gary Lester, Colour Me Blue Black and White, Bishop had high words of praise for Wellman.
“And when you looked at the backs….Eric Archer and Rogers in the centres, and Chris Wellman, a brilliant player……he should have gone on the Tour (1973 Kangaroos), he could score a try from nothing too.”
Other tributes hailed Wellman as an unsung hero of his time;
“He was a great player…a freak. He made a bigger contribution than many people will ever understand. He was confident on the field and he could play. He could just play,” Sharks and Australian hooker Ron Turner said.
And from Ken Maddison, another of the Sharks former internationals and a teammate of Wellman’s;
“Brilliant….When I came to the club he was playing fullback – what a season he had. He had just had some time in England playing with Dave Eckersley at St Helens and he brought back that Pommie style of football, running across field then turning back inside. He was fabulous. Then he went to lock and he also played a bit of five eighth. He was unlucky not to make the tour in 1973.”
Chris Wellman’s funeral is scheduled for Tuesday, May 12 at 11.30am at the South Tweed Crematorium. A wake will take place following the funeral service at a venue yet to be determined.
The Sharks will communicate through its media channels any alterations to these details.
Sharks ‘Dream Team’ – announced 2006
1 David Peachey
2 Mat Rogers
3 Steve Rogers
4 Andrew Ettingshausen
5 Roy Corcoran
6 Chris Wellman
7 Tommy Bishop
8 Jason Stevens
9 Ron Turner
10 Cliff Watson
11 Ken Maddison
12 Gavin Miller
13 Greg Pierce
14 Dane Sorenson
15 Steve Kneen
16 Brett Kimmorley
17 Mark McGaw
Photo - Sharks 1973 Grand Final team - Wellman front row, second from right