Rugby league legend Tommy Raudonikis has died aged 70 after a long and hard-fought battle with cancer.
The former Western Suburbs Magpies, Newtown Jets and Australian halfback lost his brave battle on Wednesday morning in a Gold Coast hospital.
His partner Trish Brown was by his bedside as he died just six days shy of his 71st birthday.
Known for his toughness and uncompromising style of play, the halfback was a straight shooter who was much loved by fans.
One of the sport’s most cherished characters, the playmaker known as ‘Tommy Terrific’ played 239 first grade games for the Wests Magpies and Newtown Jets over the course of his long career.
His former Magpies coach Roy Masters has led the outpouring of tributes.
Tributes are flowing for Tommy Raudonikis, who died on Wednesday. He’s pictured with his partner Trish Brown at an event in 2018
Tommy Raudonikis is seen ahead of the 1997 State of Origin match when he was coach of the New South Wales Blues
‘He fought on until cancer finally did to him what a legion of English, French, and New Zealand players could not,’ Masters wrote.
Former Australian Kangaroos teammate John Lang added: ‘We used to call him Tommy Ridiculous. He was a force of nature.’
Western Suburbs also remembered one of its greatest to don the Magpies jersey.
‘As both player & coach, Tommy has been at the heart & soul of the Magpies and their supporters for 50 years. Our thoughts are with Tommy’s family,’ the club posted online.
A host of rival clubs, including South Sydney Rabbitohs and Manly Sea Eagles have also paid tribute, along with the NRL
‘A rugby league legend and one of the great characters,’ the NRL posted.
Raudonikis also played 29 Tests for Australia and captained the NSW Blues in the inaugural State of Origin game in 1980.
In 1972, he won the Rothmans Medal awarded to players voted by referees as the best and fairest for the season.
He coached the Magpies for the four seasons in the mid-1990s and led the NSW Blues to an Origin series win against Queensland in 1997, where he famously coined the ‘cattle dog’ cry.
Two years ago, Raudonikis was diagnosed with a cancer in his neck so close to his brain that doctors were unable to operate on him.
More to come.