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Martin Bella (born 26 March 1964) is an Australian former rugby league footballer of the 1980s and 1990s. A prop, he achieved national and state representation and played club football for various teams in Queensland, New South Wales and England. He is of Italian descent where both his parents were Italian immigrants.

Martin Bella
Personal information
Born (1964-03-26) 26 March 1964 (age 55)
Sarina, Queensland, Australia
Playing information
Height180 cm (5 ft 11 in)
Weight111 kg (17 st 7 lb)
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1983–85 Easts (Brisbane)
1984–86 Halifax
1986–89 North Sydney Bears 83 1 0 0 4
1990–92 Manly Sea Eagles 57 2 0 0 8
1993–94 Canterbury Bulldogs 46 2 0 0 8
1995 North Qld Cowboys 14 0 0 0 0
1996–97 Gold Coast Chargers 35 2 0 0 8
Total 235 7 0 0 28
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1987–94 Queensland 21 0 0 0 0
1988–92 Australia 9 0 0 0 0
Source: [1][2]

He is the brother of the South Queensland Crushers players Robert and Anthony.


Early careerEdit

Martin Bella's career started out in the Foley Shield. His Mackay Under-18 side defeated Herbert River in the final after representing Queensland and Australia at schoolboy level the previous two seasons. Bella left North Queensland to play with Easts Tigers in Brisbane Rugby League premiership from 1983.[3] After three seasons in Brisbane and two off-seasons playing for Halifax in England, Bella moved to North Sydney Bears in 1986.

North Sydney BearsEdit

At the end of the 1986 NSWRL season, Bella went on the 1986 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain and France, playing in most games on the tour, but not the Tests. In 1987 he played State of Origin and in 1988 made his first Test appearance in the third Test against the touring Great Britain side.

Also in 1988 he put on his boots for Queensland and made a clean sweep of the interstate series with Sam Backo providing a memorable rampaging display of front row power. Bella and Backo, both North Queenslanders, lined up for a repeat performance again against the Blues in 1989 with another awesome display up front, Bella was named man-of-the-match in the series opener as the Maroons again whitewashed the Blues. Following the Origin series, Bella was selected for Australia's mid-season tour of New Zealand, though he only played in 3 minor games on tour and failed to make the test team.[4]

Manly-Warringah Sea EaglesEdit

Bella played with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles from 1990 to 1992, appearing in 57 matches and scoring two tries. At the end of the 1990 NSWRL season, he went on the 1990 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain and France, his second such tour. Unfortunately for Bella, he paid the price for Australia's first Ashes series loss to Great Britain at Wembley Stadium and was replaced in the test team by Glenn Lazarus for the remaining tests on the tour. Prior to the Kangaroo Tour, Bella was named as the 1990 Dally M prop of the year.[5]

In the third and deciding match of the 1991 State of Origin series he was once again named man-of-the-match. After powerhouse displays for Queensland in the 1991 Origin series he was recalled to the Australian team for the mid-season 1991 Trans-Tasman Test series against New Zealand.

Martin Bella, who played his final two tests during Australia's tour of Papua New Guinea in 1991, played a total of nine Tests for Australia, and a record twenty State of Origin games, at the time a feat unequalled by any forward from either State.

Canterbury-Bankstown BulldogsEdit

His career continued with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs club, which he joined for the 1993 and 1994 seasons. He played in Canterbury's 1994 Grand Final loss to the Canberra Raiders. Bella famously knocked the ball on from the opening kick off in the final.[6]

After the season, he returned to North Queensland to play with the newly formed North Queensland Cowboys in the expanded twenty team Australian Rugby League competition.

North Queensland CowboysEdit

The burly Mackay forward had a long rep career but his signing at the Cowboys was sadly for them on the backend of his eventful career. There was nothing flashy about Bella's style of play - simple forward moving football. However, he was one of the strongest selections for the Cowboys first year in competition. Full of leadership qualities over the younger personnel at the club, Bella had vast experience behind him from those Kangaroo Tours and Queensland Maroons experience. Considered by many a Queenslander as a great forward with great passion. However he was cut from the club at the back end of the 1995 season because of behavioural problems leaving him looking down the barrel of retirement.

Cowboys StatisticsEdit

Year G T Gls FGls Pts
1995 14 0 0 0 0
Totals 14 0 0 0 0

Legend: Gms = Games, Trs = Tries, Gls = Goals, FGls = Field Goals, Pts = Points.

Gold Coast ChargersEdit

Bella again managed to attract attention, this time around for another Queensland club, when he was lured out of possible retirement to play with the Gold Coast Chargers in 1996-97. At the time, the Gold Coast club were dwindling away under debts and poor form and in need of some strong support. Bella produced numerous worthy performances and led the Gold Coast team to its first ever finals playoffs of its rollercoaster eight-year existence during the year of the Super League split in 1997.

In 2000 Bella was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his contribution to Australia's international standing in rugby league.

Personal lifeEdit

Bella is a qualified Physiotherapist. Much mirth was made of this fact when in one State of Origin game, after a tackle, he became disoriented and raked the ball while facing the wrong direction. His son, Ross, played for the North Queensland Cowboys Holden Cup side,[7] and for the Mackay Cutters and now plays for the Townsville Blackhawks in the Intrust Super Cup in Queensland.


  1. ^ Rugby League Project
  2. ^ Yesterday's Hero Archived 10 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Martin Bella at the SportingPulse Homepage for Northern Division
  4. ^ 1989 Kangaroo Tour of NZ squad at Rugby League Project
  5. ^ "Martin Bella". Shawn Dollin, Andrew Ferguson and Bill Bates. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
  6. ^ "1994 Grand Final Memories". Canberra Raiders.
  7. ^

External linksEdit