Career : 1988 – 1991
Debut : Round 1, 1988 vs Hawthorn, aged 24 years, 12 days
Carlton Player No. 948
Games : 55
Goals : 5
Last Game : Round 21, 1991 vs St Kilda, aged 27 years, 141 days
Guernsey No. 5
Height : 183 cm (6 ft. 0 in.)
Weight : 85 kg (13 stone, 5 lbs.)
DOB : 21 March, 1964
Remembered as a hard-hitting, determined customer who took no prisoners on the football field, Steven Da Rui was recruited by Carlton from East Perth prior to the 1987 season, along with his good mate Richard Dennis. A solid unit at 183 cm and 85 kg, Da Rui was no racehorse, but he was a strong mark, a great exponent of the legal 'hip and shoulder' bump, and a fierce tackler who revelled in the physical challenges.
Beginning his career at Perth’s St Mark’s College, Da Rui had played the first of his 87 matches for East Perth in 1981. His first few years were hampered by injury, so his potential wasn’t really apparent until 1986, when he was switched from defence into a ruck-roving role and became one of the Royals’ stars. At the end of that year, he and Dennis signed with Carlton, and the pair were soon at Princes Park for the start of pre-season training. Confident in the ability of both recruits, the club assigned them guernsey numbers 3 and 5 respectively.
But while ‘Rocky’ Dennis went on to play in the Blues’ 1987 Premiership team, Da Rui spent all of his first season with Carlton Reserves. The Blues’ list was abundant with midfielders at the time, and Steve soon realised that if he was going to play senior football at Carlton, then it had to be in defence. Still, he helped make ’87 a year of double celebration, when he was among his team’s better contributors as they comfortably beat St Kilda for the Reserves flag.
Eventually, Da Rui’s opportunity at senior level arrived the following year, when he was selected for Carlton’s round one match against Hawthorn at Princes Park. Stationed alongside Ian Aitken and Peter Dean at half-back, he made it a doubly-special occasion by kicking his first career goal in a hard-earned 15-point win.
From then on, he missed only a handful of games for the year, and was used as a shock trooper off the bench in all three of the Blues’ finals matches. When Carlton’s Premiership defence ended in the Preliminary Final with a 22-point defeat by Melbourne, Demon ruckman Steve O’Dwyer was reported for striking Da Rui, and his subsequent 3-week suspension cost him a place in the Grand Final.
Over the next three seasons, Carlton went through a period of instability at the top as three coaches; Robert Walls, Alex Jesaulenko and David Parkin arrived or departed. The team drifted into a period of mediocrity, but Da Rui could always be relied on to light up the crowd. Some of his more memorable moments were the games where he ironed out opposing captains Michael Tuck of Hawthorn and Terry Daniher of Essendon, and the perfectly-delivered shirtfront that sent Melbourne's Greg Healy to Disneyland at Princes Park.
In 1990, Da Rui represented Western Australia in that year’s State of Origin match against Victoria in Perth. Then, just over a year later, both he and Richard Dennis ended their careers at Carlton in the same match – round 21, 1991; when St Kilda’s champion full-forward Tony Lockett kicked 13 goals in a 54-point demolition of the hapless Blues.
Milestones50 Games: Round 12, 1991 vs Collingwood
Career Highlights1987 - Reserves Premiership Player
1987 - Carlton Supporters Reserves Best & Fairest Award
1988 - Best First Year Player Award
LinksArticles: Carlton's Controversial Finishes
Blueseum: A summary of Da Rui's playing career | Career Breakdown | Da Rui's Blueseum Image Gallery