Former Australia and St George rugby league Immortal Reg Gasnier has died after a long illness.
The brilliant centre died a day before his 75th birthday in a southern Sydney nursing home.
Gasnier was considered one of the greatest players, appearing in 39 Tests for Australia and 127 matches for the Dragons during their record-breaking 11-premiership streak of the 1950s and 60s.
He featured in seven of those grand finals.
The uncle of modern star Mark Gasnier, Reg was a powerful centre who debuted for the Dragons in 1959.
He quickly established himself for club, state and country, playing for the Blues after just five first-grade games and the Australia team later in 1959.
With excellent hands, speed and anticipation he had a decorated career and became Australia’s youngest captain in 1962 at 23 years and 28 days.
Gasnier made three Kangaroo tours – 1959-60, 1963-64 and 1967-68, the last as captain-coach – and he also played in the 1960 World Cup final.
His career came to a halt in 1967 when he broke his leg against a French provincial team in a tour match.
In 1981 Gasnier was selected as one of the four original ‘Immortals’ – the greatest ever players of the game as adjudged by Rugby League Week, of which there are now eight.
Dubbed “the prince of centres” Gasnier had major surgery in 2010 to remove tumours from his brain and neck and had also suffered a stroke.
Dragons teammate and fellow Immortal Johnny Raper was deeply saddened by the news.
“It’s a very, very sad day, I saw him last Tuesday. He was a fighter,” Raper told News Corporation.
Manly’s Bob Fulton, who would also go on to become an Immortal, rued the chance of not playing alongside Gasnier.
“He was my hero when I used to come to Sydney and watch St George play at the Sydney Cricket Ground,” Fulton told News Corporation.
“I remember in 1967 we both got selected in a City side together but Reg was injured and had to pull out.
“It would have been a career highlight to play alongside him.
“To be selected as one of the original Immortals alongside him was a humbling experience.”
A number of players and rugby league identities tweeted their condolences shortly after his death.
“Sad to hear passing of @NRL_Dragons king! Reg Gasnier. Thoughts are with his family and my bro mark..,” wrote long-time Dragon Matt Cooper.
Penrith Panthers general manager and former Blues coach Phil Gould tweeted: “RIP REG GASNIER. One of the all-time greats. Also one of my boyhood idols. Sincere condolences to family, friends and the Big Red V club”.
The Dragons issued a statement saying the club was deeply saddened by his passing.
Gasnier is survived by his wife Maureen, son Peter and daughter in-law Angelique; daughter Kellie and son in-law Peter and Grandchildren Sheri, Jack, Bryce, Erin and Mitchell.