Sport Rugby League Rugby league hall of fame member Noel Kelly dies, aged 84
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Rugby league hall of fame member Noel Kelly dies, aged 84

Noel Kelly (end of back row) on the 1963-64 Kangaroos tour – one of three he made. Photo: PA
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Australian rugby league legend and team of the century hooker Noel Kelly passed away on Sunday afternoon, aged 84.

The legendary hard man played 28 Tests for the Kangaroos and three NSWRL grand finals for his beloved Western Suburbs Magpies, where he built a formidable reputation over 111 games.

On Sunday night ARLC chairman Peter V’landys said Kelly will be remembered as one of rugby league’s greatest players.

“He was the first front rower to tour with the Kangaroos three times on the 1959-60, 1963-64 and 1967-68 tours, a feat that will forever be etched in rugby league history,” V’landys said.

“A deserved member of the National Rugby League Hall of Fame, ‘Ned’ as he was fondly known, was an uncompromising forward.

“As tough as they came, he was sent off 17 times playing for his beloved Wests.

“His send-off 90 seconds into the 1967 second Test against New Zealand will always remain part of our folklore.”

Kelly’s achievements on the football field have been acknowledged in an array of ways.

As well as being named in the team of the century, he was listed among the 100 Greatest Players over the first century of the game by the ARL in 2008.

He was also named captain and hooker of Wests Magpies’ Team of the Century in 2004.

But perhaps his biggest legacy is his generosity and compassion with the Men of League Foundation, of which he was a founding member.

“Noel Kelly will forever be remembered as one of the game’s all-time greats. His loss today will be felt throughout the rugby league community,” V’landys said.

“On behalf of the game I send my condolences to Noel’s family and friends.”