Freedomroo – Family, friends and former players send off beloved league legend Tommy Raudonikis

A who's who of rugby league names bid the game's biggest character, Tommy Raudonikis, a fond farewell at his funeral on the Gold Coast on Friday

A who’s who of rugby league names bid the game’s biggest character, Tommy Raudonikis, a fond farewell at his funeral on the Gold Coast on Friday. 

Raudonikis passed away at Gold Coast University Hospital aged 70 last week, after numerous battles with cancer.

An outpouring of emotion for the rough and tumble halfback followed his death, with a minute’s silence observed in his honour at every NRL game last weekend. 

A resident of Paradise Point on the Gold Coast for many years, Raudonikis’ funeral at Sacred Heart Catholic Church at Clear Island Waters was attended by NRL Chairman Peter V’landys and CEO Andrew Abdo. 

He was carried into the church in a casket draped in Wests and Newtown jerseys, topped by a corsage of white carnations and red roses.

A who’s who of rugby league names bid the game’s biggest character, Tommy Raudonikis, a fond farewell at his funeral on the Gold Coast on Friday

Tommy’s partner Trish Brown, son Lincoln, and daughter Corryn we’re joined by a large contingent of extended family from Cowra and Wagga, where Raudonikis spent much of his youth.

Granddaughters Zali Raudonikis and Grace Hawke did the readings at the Catholic service.

A host of veteran rugby league stars paid their respects to the game’s largest character, Tommy Raudonikis, at a funeral held on the Gold Coast today.

Olympic legend Dawn Fraser joined former State of Origin stars such as Allan Langer, Ben Ikin, Trevor Gillmeister, May Rogers and Jim Dymock in sending off the famously tough halfback.

Raudonikis in his heyday

Raudonikis attends Magic Millions Raceday on January 14, 2017 in Gold Coast, Australia

Raudonikis passed away at Gold Coast University Hospital aged 70 last week, after numerous battles with cancer

Rabbitohs legend John Sattler, famous for breaking his jaw in the 1970 Grand Final, was aided into the service.

Old teammates and adversaries included Phil Sigsworth, Larry Corowa, Neil Pringle, Jim Leis, Col Murphy and Greg Oliphant remembered the popular figure, who made his home on the Gold Coast in recent years despite his well know hatred of Queensland.

John Singleton and former rugby league supremo John Quayle were late arrivals, Singo dressed casually in sports jacket and open necked shirt. 

Raudonikis was first diagnosed with cancer way back in 1986. For a while there, Tommy appeared indestructible as he battled testicular cancer, underwent a quadruple bypass, and later fought against throat and neck cancer.  

The tough little boy from Cowra reinvented the halfback position in league with his uncompromising style, running and tackling like a large forward despite his small stature.

He played 239 first-grade games for Western Suburbs and Newtown, 29 Tests for Australia and 24 games for NSW, including captaining the Blues in the inaugural State of Origin game in 1980.

Raudonikis’ larrikin reputation was built on his gamesmanship. He was not above using tactics long since outlawed from the game in order to get under his opponents’ skin.

Raudonikis was first diagnosed with cancer way back in 1986. For a while there, Tommy appeared indestructible as he battled testicular cancer, underwent a quadruple bypass, and later fought against throat and neck cancer

Raudonikis was first diagnosed with cancer way back in 1986. For a while there, Tommy appeared indestructible as he battled testicular cancer, underwent a quadruple bypass, and later fought against throat and neck cancer

This attitude was typified during his stint as coach of NSW in 1997 and 1998, when he introduced the infamous ‘cattledog’ call: a trigger for NSW forwards to start a brawl with their Queensland opponents in order to unsettle them. 

The son of migrants, raised in a transit camp, Raudonikis experienced family tragedy later in life. His 15-year-old grandson Jake Kedzlie was killed during a rugby league match at Toormina, near Coffs Harbour, in 2013. In 2017, Raudonikis’ son Simon died of cancer aged 41.

Raudonikis will be honoured with a public memorial at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday, April 19, after suggestions he would be granted a state funeral in NSW by the government were rejected.

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