THEY were known as the Indomitables.
And they formed a team that relaunched rugby league in a world devastated by World War Two.
Many regard them as the most famous touring team of all time.
They were the Great Britain Lions team who toured Australia and New Zealand in 1946, and who remain the only Great Britain team to be unbeaten in a test series in Australia.
Now the two surviving Indomitables, Joe Egan and Bryn Knowelden, have been in Huddersfield for a celebration day at the George Hotel – birthplace of rugby league – despite both approaching 90.
“I had always dreamed of one day meeting up again with everyone involved with the tour and today my dream came true”, said Knowelden, formerly a centre with Barrow and Warrington.
The tour was historic as it was the first major event in any sport after the war ended.
The Australian government made a personal plea to the British parliament to enable the tour to go ahead, as it wanted to lift the morale of its people, struggling to come to terms with the tragedy of the war.
At that time Royal Navy vessels were the only way to travel, but the team managed to secure berths and made the trip aboard the aircraft carrier, HMS Indomitable, from where the nickname came.
The players kept up their fitness levels on the six-week voyage by stoking the boilers as they went.
The ship left them in Perth, as it had to go to Singapore to collect prisoners incarcerated by Japan.
This left the players with a nightmare five-day train journey to Sydney on which the team drew lots to see who would sleep on the wire netted luggage racks.
The rest were forced to sleep upright in hot and overcrowded carriages.
They played the first test against Australia on June 17, drawing 8-8, before winning the second test 14-5 thanks to a hat-trick by Arthur Basset.
They secured the series with a 20-7 win in the third game.
The reunion came about through a meeting between Simon Foster and Michael Owens, sons of the back row forwards on the tour Trevor Foster and former Huddersfield player Ike Owens, when they both took memorabilia belonging to their fathers to the Antiques Roadshow.
Mr Foster said: “The TV programme sparked a huge interest from other relatives of the Indomitables who were keen to make contact with us.
“One thing led to another and we felt with such great interest being aroused, it would be a good idea to bring all the families together, enjoy a meal and share memories and memorabilia.
“To meet at the birthplace of rugby league and enjoy the company of Joe and Bryn has been very nostalgic and an emotional experience for us.”
The Indomitables were the first tourists to visit Australia after the war.
The 27 players and two managers on tour were captained by Gus Risman.
Four players, including Joe Egan, missed out on playing in the 1946 Challenge Cup final at Wembley, because they had to get on the boat to Australia.
After retaining the Ashes – drawing one and winning two Tests – the team went to New Zealand but lost.
When the team returned after five months away, they had travelled over 25,000 nautical miles.