Johnny Raper, considered one of the greatest players in rugby league history, has died at age 82 after a long battle with illness.
Rugby league icon Johnny Raper has died at age 82 following a long battle with dementia.
Considered one of the greatest ever to play the game, Raper was an integral part of the St George Dragons team that dominated the NSWRL in the late 1950s and 1960s.
He played in eight consecutive premiership victories between 1959 and 1966 and was named one of the original Immortals of the game.
Raper was also known for his dominant performances in the representative arena, having captained Australia to victory at the 1968 World Cup.
During his career, Raper also played for the Newtown Jets and for Newcastle sides Kurri Kurri and Wests, but his name will forever by synonymous with the St George Dragons.
Raper’s death follows that of fellow St George champion Norm Provan last year. Provan, whose likeness has been immortalised in the NRL premiership trophy, died on October 13.
Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys was among those to pay tribute to Raper.
“Today we have lost one of our all time greats. An Immortal, a Kangaroos captain and an eight-time Premiership winning player. Johnny was the best of the best,’’ he said.
“Johnny was a football genius. He had a gut instinct for rugby league like few we have seen. He wasn’t the biggest player on the field, but he was the smartest. Johnny’s feats with the Dragons will remain part of rugby league legend forever.
“On behalf of the game, I send my deepest condolences to Johnny’s family, friends and teammates.”
St George Illawarra Dragons and St George District chairman Craig Young lauded Raper’s contribution to the game.
“Johnny Raper was an inspiration to his teammates and the entire St George organisation and is one of the key reasons why the famous Red V holds such esteem to this very day,” he said.
“Johnny was a larger than life character on and off the field who loved the game dearly. He will be sadly missed and never forgotten.
“Everyone involved with St George District and the St George Illawarra Dragons send their condolences to the Raper family.”