Rugby League lost some greats during 2016. May we never forget their contribution to our game.
TOMMY SALE, MBE (21/7/1918-3/1/2016)
Leigh Legend Tommy Sale passed away in January at age 97.
He played for Warrington and Leigh in a career that started in 1938 and ended in December 1950 when he took Widnes to the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
BRIAN JOHNSON (26/6/1956-12/1/2016)
Former St George Dragons, Eastern Suburbs and Warrington fullback Brian Johnson battle with Alzheimer’s Disease came to an end in January.
He was a premiership winning player for the Dragons in 1979, his first season in top grade football. Post career he coached Warrington for seven seasons.
DES O’REILLY (19/11/1954-7/3/2016)
Des O’Reilly was part of Jack Gibson’s star-studded Eastern Suburbs Roosters 1975 premiership winning side.
He played 127 games for the tri-colours and 13 with Cronulla before retiring in 1985. He also represented New South Wales prior to the Origin concept in 1981.
MICK SULLIVAN (12/1/1934-5/4/2016)
Former Great Britain and English International Michael Sullivan passed away in April at the age of 82.
Sullivan holds the record for the most appearances with the Great Britain Lions (46) matched later by Garry Schofield. He remains the only British player to have won two World Cup titles.
He scored 218 tries in 390 matches at club level and 43 in 46 matches for Great Britain.
DUD BEATTIE (27/4/1934-19/4/2016)
Former Australian International Dud Beattie passed away at his Caloundra home just before his 82nd birthday.
He represented Australia on 18 occassions and Queensland 19 times. In the 1980’s he was part of the Australian selection committee.
ROGER MILLWARD, MBE (16/9/1947-2/5/2016)
Roger Millward was a true great of the game.
In a career spanning 16 seasons, Millward appeared in 467 club matches scoring 1,980 points. Most of them with Hull KR, a club he would coach from his retirement in 1980 through to 1991.
He was a captain for Great Britain at two World Cups on his way to making 29 appearances with a further 17 for England.
GREG PIERCE (4/3/1950-24/6/2016)
Greg Pierce was ‘Cronulla’ and his death in June at 66 sent shock waves through the Shire.
The immortal played in Cronulla’s 1973 Grand Final but missed the 1978 Grand Final due to suspension. He took over as captain in 1975.
Pierce played 210 games for Cronulla, 6 for New South Wales and 8 for Australia.
KEN THORNETT (27/11/1937-16/8/2016)
Ken Thornett was a much-decorated Parramatta Eel and Leeds player having played 264 club games, representing New South Wales 3 times and Australia on 12 occasions.
Thornett had a grandstand named after him at Parramatta Stadium (before its current redevelopment) and was named as on of the 100 Greatest Players to play the game as part of the centenary of rugby league held in 2008.
HARRY JEPSON (4/2/1920-29/8/2016)
Harry Jepson was a long serving rugby league administrator in the game.
His resume included Director of Football at Leeds in the 1980’s followed by becoming Club President of the club. He also was chairman of the Rugby League Conference.
He was an inaugural member of the RFL.
RON MASSEY (1920-19/9/2016)
Ron Massey was seen as one of the most influential assistant coaches with a long-term partnership next to Jack Gibson at Parramatta and Eastern Suburbs during the 1970’s and 1980’s.
The New South Wales Rugby League have the Ron Massey Cup competition in his name.
Vale Ron Massey
THOMAS MARTYN (1946-6/11/2016)
Tommy Martin was a former Batley, Warrington, Leigh and English International who passed away in November.
He played 220 games for the Wire between 1975 and 1981 and represented England on five occasions.
ADAM O’NEILL (29/4/1964-9/11/2016)
Adam O’Neill lost his battle with cancer in November at the age of 52.
He was the son of former cricketing great Norm O’Neill who played 37 matches for the South Sydney Rabbitohs between 1987 and 1990.
CHAD ROBINSON (20/10/1980-26/11/2016)
The death of former Parramatta Eel, Sydney Rooster and Harlequin Chad Robinson rocked the rugby league community.
Robinson went missing on November 26 with his body discovered just three days out from Christmas.
He was part of the Roosters 2002 Premiership winning side and runner up in 2003.
We also acknowledge the well-publicised deaths of Ronan Costello (17, Huddersfield Giant rugby league academy player) and Grant Cook (Country Rugby League player).