ONE OF the heroes of Leeds Rhinos’ success in the early 2000s was Aussie Andrew Dunemann.
The Brisbane-born player, who celebrated his 38th birthday last week, spent three seasons with Leeds and cemented himself as a key member of the team as the foundations were laid for the glory days which Rhinos have enjoyed since.
Dunemann was first noticed by Leeds’ management in 1997, when he starred alongside his brother Ian for North Queensland Cowboys in both their World Club Championship wins over Rhinos, in Townsville and at Headingley.
An ex-Gold Coast and South Sydney player, he moved to Super League a couple of seasons later, to join Halifax and was introduced to his new side’s fans before a game against Leeds at The Shay.
Dunemann – able to operate equally effectively at half-back or hooker – scored 20 tries in 74 appearances during a three-season spell with Halifax before moving to Leeds in September, 2002. A smart rugby player, with good instincts and nice handling ability, the former Australian Schoolboys star added 87 appearances for Rhinos from 2003-2005, scoring 11 tries and a couple of one-pointers.
A regular in the 2004 table-topping team, Dunemann played at scrum-half in Leeds’ opening play-offs defeat at home to Bradford Bulls and was dropped for the final eliminator against Wigan. He also, agonisingly, missed out on an appearance in the final at Old Trafford, when Rhinos won their first Super League title. To his huge credit, Dunemann was involved in the match day squad and took full part in the post-game celebrations.
He played in the 2003 and 2005 Challenge Cup final defeats and was a member of the team beaten by Bradford Bulls at Old Trafford in 2005, which proved to be his final game for the club.
Earlier that year he helped see off his countrymen from Canterbury Bulldogs in the World Club Challenge. Speaking to the YEP after the game he recounted how the Bulldogs players claimed Leeds had only beaten a reserve-strength side. He said: “I told them not to be so hard on themselves – and anyway, we are world champions and they aren’t, so who cares?”
After leaving Leeds Dunemann had a season at Salford and a brief spell with Canberra Raiders, where he was interim coach for a spell last year following the axing of his ex-Leeds team-mate David Furner.
He now takes on video referee duties at NRL games and runs a sports management and media business in Australia.