Sunday , May 16 2021

NRL 2021: The funeral of Tommy Raudonikis unites the league world in mourning

Legend. Bum. Leader.

These three words were repeatedly used to describe Tom Raudonikis by friends, former teammates and opponents, administrators and fans as they gathered in SCG to celebrate his life.

From ARLC chairman Peter V’landys and NSW Deputy Prime Minister John Barilar to the entire Wests Tigers team and fans in Wests Magpies and Newtown Jets jerseys, the memorial service attracted people from all walks of life – as Raudonikis did before died of cancer on April 7, at the age of 70.

His former Wests coach and great colleague Roy Masters declared the outburst of feeling for Raudonikis “perhaps the greatest of Bradman” in a video from a hospital in Melbourne, where he is recovering from knee surgery.

Family, friends and fans in force heard several high stories about the life and times of Tommy Raudonikis in SCG.
Family, friends and fans in force heard several high stories about the life and times of Tommy Raudonikis in SCG.
© Gregg Porteous / NRL Photos

V’landys, longtime Wests employee Rick Wayde, Newtown Jets director Terry Rowney and Raudonikis ’former teammate Magpie John Dorahy praised, while Ray Warren MC of Channel Channel Nine did the service.

They talked about its common touch, toughness, selflessness, and unsurpassed competitiveness that helped Newtown rise from the wooden spoons in 1976, 1977, and 1978 to the grand final look of 1981.

Raudonikis was also credited with his influence on Newtown’s survival beyond the highest ranks and helping to rally the game after the Super League war.

It was pointed out that Super League architect John Ribot and former ARL CEO John Quayle paid tribute to Raudonikis, along with Steve Mortimer, Ian Schubert and Australian Olympic Committee chief John Coates.

75. Tom Raudonikis – Hall of Fame

NRL President Andrew Abdo, former NRL CEO David Gallop and former NSWRL chief Geoff Carr were among those present.

Dorahy, Mortimer, Schubert, Wayne Pearce, Steve Roach, Ben Elias, Garry Jack, Paul Sironen, Peter Wynn, Geoff Toovey and Paul McGregor were some of the greats of the rugby league who mingled with fans in the jerseys of almost all Sydney clubs.

Raudonikis ’partner Trish and other family members flew from the Gold Coast to attend the service.

“I’m very proud of him and I’m sorry he’s not with us,” Tom told “Tom loved everyone and was passionate. He loved his family, he loved his grandchildren and everyone loved him. He had no enemies. .

RIP, Tommy Raudonikis.
RIP, Tommy Raudonikis.
© Gregg Porteous / NRL Photos

“He had time for everything, be it a small child on the street or the prime minister.

“I do not know how I will proceed without him, but we must get involved. He was very ill, poor bastard.

“They’ll live in the memories for a long time, and the messages, the flowers and everything I’ve received are just amazing.”

Numerous stories were exchanged about Raudonikis ’exploits on and off the field, but there was also praise for the leadership he provided to every club and team he was involved with.

Raudonikis leaps and bounds

“Tommy was an inspiring captain and a fantastic midfielder. He was a true competitor, but he was also a mentor to many, which is not heard too often, ”said Dorahy.

“He was the leader of the first grade, but he was also the leader of the club. He would bypass and talk to the players, encouraging them or kicking them towards the back when needed.

“I remember Tommy calling me out in a few tough games – ‘come with me, we’ll belt him when he gets the ball.’ He’d say follow me, come here. That brought the Wests Magpies the win and drove the team along with Roy Masters to winning results.

“Tommy was the most competitive rugby league player I came across in my time. Because of his toughness, endurance, and competitive nature, Tommy far surpassed anyone else in the game.

“Tommy has been an inspiration to many players during his playing days, but also as his coaching days at Magpies.

“In his time as an NSW coach, when perceived [Super League] takeover, Tommy coached a successful 1997 team that helped, in my opinion, unite the rugby league. “

Dorahy admitted he was shocked when Raudonikis left the Magpies in 1980 to join Newtown, but Rowney said Jets benefactor John Singleton and coach Warren Ryan targeted him for his lead.

“They wanted a good player, but more importantly, they wanted a leader – a person who leads the front and says‘ do what I do and follow me, guys, we’re all inside, ’” Rowney said.

Magpies great John Dorahy.
Magpies great John Dorahy.
© Gregg Porteous / NRL Photos

“For a martial arts club that last worked from 1976 to 1978, Tommy’s arrival was simply impossible to imagine. Me and many other people finally had to follow a team that could win the games.

“He was a very special person; larrikin advocating for something, a child from Cowre who helped people — many of whom he didn’t actually meet.

“His position was that ‘we’re not here to make up numbers, we’re really going to go and shoot the stars.’

“The only reason Newtown survived was because of people like [Newtown stalwart] Col Murphy, Singo and Tommy. We would not give up and he taught us that. “

Wests Tigers players at the Tommy Raudonikis Memorial.
Wests Tigers players at the Tommy Raudonikis Memorial.
© Gregg Porteous / NRL Photos

Wayde, who led the campaign to prevent Wests from being knocked out of the 1983 NSWRL competition with Newtown, said Raudonikis earned the Australian 7th jersey while playing for the Magpies teams that last ran last in 1970 and 1971.

He also spoke about Raudonikis ’role in trying to save the club when, as a coach from 1995 to 1999, he regularly drove Campbelltown on the back of the ute with a loudspeaker to invite fans to attend home games.

V’landys, who thanked the NSW government for the public memorial but told Barilarlo and other lawmakers present that Raudonikis deserved a state funeral, described it as a “definition of selflessness.”

“It wasn’t part of his DNA,” V’landys said. “He would work hardest for his friends, he would work for his country and his country. He didn’t care for his own good, he just cared about his friends and didn’t let anyone down.

Raiders, Maroons and Australian great Mal Manning.
Raiders, Maroons and Australian great Mal Manning.
© Gregg Porteous

“The story that means selflessness was when he was diagnosed with cancer and treated with chemotherapy, was a young lady who was 29 years old with several children.

“Tommy didn’t care about himself, he didn’t care. His whole heart was for that young lady with breast cancer and what kids would do without a mother, and that was his focus.

“Today I am honored to speak on behalf of the fans and say ‘Tommy, thank you for showing us what selflessness is.'”

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