The rugby league community is mourning the loss of the great Johnny Raper following his death aged 82.
One of the game’s original Immortals, Raper endured a long battle with dementia after being named in rugby league’s team of the century following a decorated career that included eight consecutive grand final victories with St George.
The legendary lock also captained Australia eight times during his 39-Test career, including the 1968 World Cup-winning side.
“A true champion. He will be sadly missed,” St George great Steve Edge said on Wednesday.
The Australian Rugby League Commission also paid tribute to the two-time NSWRL player of the year.
ARLC chairman Peter V’landys – a passionate Dragons fan – hailed Raper as, obviously, one of the greatest players in the game’s history.
“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,” V’landys 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.”
Born in Revesby, Raper debuted for Newtown in 1957. He played 37 games for the Bluebags before forging his magnificent career with the iconic Dragons team of the 1950s and ’60s.
He pulled on the famous Red V 185 times and won his premierships between 1959 and 1966.