Before each home game, we salute a former South Sydney great in hope that the football club catches on and starts doing it at home games. Similar to how Canterbury-Bankstown honour past players by having them present the 18th jersey on the field to a member, Parramatta have a past player raise the blue and gold flag and let’s not forget the viking horn down at Canberra.
We salute, Jim Serdaris—former South Sydney player #862. Serdaris is a New South Wales State of Origin (3 games 1995) and one time Australian Kangaroos (1995) representative and one time ARL Premiership winner (Manly-Warringah 1996).
Serdaris played 208 First Grade games (South Sydney 69 [1989–92], Canterbury-Bankstown 22 , Western Suburbs 37 [1994–95]) and Manly-Warringah 80 [1996–99] scored 33 tries (South Sydney 11, Canterbury-Bankstown 3, Western Suburbs 11 and Manly-Warringah 8) and kicked one field goal for Western Suburbs (1994). He played the majority of his football at hooker but did serve stints in the second row
Too young to grade, too good to say no
It’s a common misconception that Jim Serdaris is a South Sydney junior. He is actually a Western Suburbs junior who played for Enfield and represented Western Suburbs in S.G. Ball.
At the end of the 1987 season, a freshly turned 16 year old, Serdaris participated at Souths’ end of season open trial. He made such an impression that Souths wanted to grade him but couldn’t so they had him play the 1988 season in B Grade for Zetland and represented South Sydney in S.G. Ball and Jersey Flegg.
In 1989, he started the season in President’s Cup and was too good for that so by Round 8 he made his first grade debut off the bench.
Everyone knew that Serdaris was a special talent and he even forced Coach Piggins’ hand to shift Club Captain and hooker Mario Fenech to prop. Now that is one hell of an achievement for a rookie.
Rookie of the Year
Serdaris was given his chance at first grade after stellar performances earlier on in the day for President’s Cup and Reserve Grade against North Sydney, He came on off the bench and didn’t disappoint.
Piggins had him starting the next week at hooker against his junior club Western Suburbs and after four or five games his name was being thrown around as Rookie of the Year.
Serdaris was a tough young hooker that didn’t flinch when being roughed up in the scrum by the opposition. He was as tough as they came but was also crafty. He was small in stature but was heavy and strong and he used this to his advantage, especially with the opposition underestimated him.
After a breakout season, Serdaris was awarded the Dally M Rookie of the Year Award.
Serdaris’ achievements in 1989 had rival clubs knocking at the door, in particular Manly-Warringah who offered him big money but he knocked it back and re-signed with South Sydney for two more seasons.
New decade, new beginnings
South Sydney’s 1990 season was full of injury and heartbreak. The success of the 80s didn’t roll over into the 90s. Souths had some very promising young players coming through the grades such as Serdaris, Jim Dymock, Charlie Saab and Terry Hill but were lacking the experience and defensive efforts of a few old heads.
Serdaris left South Sydney at the end of the 1992 season to join Canterbury-Bankstown. He was one of many promising players that exited the club.
Serdaris went on to have a great career representing his state, country and winning a premiership
He eventually returned to the South Sydney fold during the fightback era. He was famously quoted outside of the Federal Court saying the following:
“I’ve had offers to go to other clubs but I’ve always been loyal to Craig [Coleman],” said Serdaris, a former Souths junior, outside the Federal Court.
“But with this decision I’m not playing rugby league any more, I don’t want to play rugby league. This used to be the number one game in Australia. Now rugby union and all these other sports have taken over. In the bush the game is gone.
“I’m going to give it up because my heart is not there without South Sydney.
“It’s not money or anything any more, it’s the right thing, and the wrong thing has been done today.”