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Peter "Sterlo" Sterling OAM (born 16 June 1960) is an Australian rugby league commentator and former player. He was one of the all-time great halfbacks and a major contributor to Parramatta Eels' dominance of the New South Wales Rugby League premiership in the 1980s.

Sterling played nineteen Tests for the Australian national team between 1982 and 1988. He also played in thirteen State of Origins for New South Wales, winning man of the match on 4 occasions. He played in four premiership-winning sides with Parramatta in 1981-1983 and 1986 and has been inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame.

Early life

Sterling was born in Toowoomba, Queenslandmarker and raised in Wagga Waggamarker, New South Walesmarker. He commenced his playing career at the age of fourteen when he joined the Wagga Waggamarker Kangaroo Panthers in 1974. As a teenager he spent several years living at RAAF Base Wagga, where his father was serving as a dental technician.He gained his experience by playing at Sydney's Patrician Brothers' College, Fairfieldmarker.

Playing career

Sterling compensated for a lack of size and pace with control and organisational skills that allowed Parramatta's all-star back line of Brett Kenny, Mick Cronin, Steve Ella and Eric Grothe a great deal of ball. His kicking, backed up by Kenny and Ray Price's superb chasing, often gave Parramatta an advantage in territory. His fast mind meant that he would rarely make a wrong decision. . He was an effective defender rare to miss a tackle, and often in position to secure a loose ball.

He joined the Parramatta Eels in 1978 making his first appearance as a stand-in fullback during the 1978 finals series. After a few games at five-eighth in 1979, Sterling shifted to halfback and established himself in 1980. 1981 saw Parramatta win their initial first grade title with Sterling's superb skill and control one of the decisive factors. He played for New South Wales that year without living up to his club form, but in 1982 Parramatta could do no wrong, apart from a 0-20 thrashing at the hands of Manly in the semi final. Sterling was chosen for the Kangaroo Tour despite having not played in the State of Origin series and played in every Test in that unbeaten tour side.

In 1983, Sterling played in Australia's win in the first test against New Zealand, but wasn't selected for Australia's shock 12-19 second Test loss, was named man-of-the-match in the 2nd game of the State of Origin series and helped Parramatta to a third successive premiership title. After playing for Hull FC over the Australian summer, Sterling vacated his Test spot despite winning the Rugby League Week Player of the Year award in 1984 for the first time. In the 1984 grand final, Sterling had few opportunities due to the power of the Canterbury Bulldogs forwards, and he did not play for Parramatta in the first half of 1985 as he was with Hull FC. His superb skills translated to Hull and he made a prominent impact in English club rugby league, playing in the losing side of the epic 1985 Challenge Cup final against Parramatta teammate Brett Kenny. Though he was relatively quiet upon his return to Parramatta, at the end of the season Sterling's skill allowed Parramatta to crush Balmain (twice) and Penrith to move from doubtful finalists to the preliminary final - where a ruthless Canterbury side crushed them by 26 points to nil.

1986 saw Sterling almost carry a clean sweep of the major awards - except the Rothmans Medal - and win the inaugural Clive Churchill Medal in Parramatta's fourth grand final victory. He again played every Test on an unbeaten Kangaroo tour of England that year. Despite Parramatta declining from premiers to seventh with Cronin and Price retiring and Grothe and Ella playing very little due to injuries, 1987 was undoubtedly Sterling's finest year. He swept all major player of the year awards - winning the Rothmans Medal by five points, the Dally M player of the year award, and the Rugby League Week player of the year award.

1988 saw Sterling produce quality displays for Parramatta despite the team having a disappointing year. In the last Test against Great Britain he suffered a serious shoulder injury and did not play again that year. In 1989 Sterling retired from representative rugby league but performed for Parramatta till an ankle injury ended his season and plans to play out his career in England. 1990 saw Sterling play a full season at the top of his form and lead a young Parramatta side to an excellent placing. He won a second Rothmans Medal, but in the last match against Manly a shoulder injury recurred such that despite Parramatta signing him for two more seasons, Sterling was only able to play four games before his career ended.

Sterling played 229 games for Parramatta, scoring 48 tries, one goal, and 15 field goals.

Post-playing career

His sharp intelligence marked Sterling as an astute analyst of the game and he took to commentating on Channel Nine after an initial media stint with Western Sydney radio station 2WSmarker. Sterling has been a co-host on Nine Network's The NRL Footy Show with Paul Vautin from 1994 to 2006. In 2007, he made a special appearance on the first episode of 2007 to give his farewell from the show. Sterling continues hosting The Sunday Footy Show and plays a key commentary role in Nine's game coverage.

In 1995, Sterling was picked at halfback in a poll to judge the best Australian team since the introduction of the limited-tackle rule in 1967. He won eight of fourteen votes, with the remainder going to Billy Smith, Ricky Stuart and Allan Langer.

In 2000 Sterling was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his contribution to Australia's international standing in rugby league. In 2006, he was one of six past players to be inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame at the Dally M. Awards 2006 award ceremony..

In February 2008, Sterling was named in the list of Australia's 100 Greatest Players (1908-2007) which was commissioned by the NRL and ARL to celebrate the code's centenary year in Australia.


  1. Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame


  • Whiticker, Alan and Hudson, Glen; The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players (3rd edition 1998); published Gary Allen Pty. Ltd.; Smithfield
  • Middleton, David (editor); Rugby League 1987-88,(1988) Lester Townsend Publishing Pty Ltd; Paddington, NSW
  • Middleton, David (editor); Rugby League 1996; (1996) HarperCollins Publishers, Pymble, Sydney

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