TRIBUTES are flowing for one of rugby league's great characters, as everyone from Wayne Bennett to Scott Morrison eulogizes Tommy Raudonikis.
Tommy Terrific died just six days short of his 70th birthday, after battling cancer for years.
He was one of the toughest men ever to play the game, with former opponents and teammates lauding his career in an era rugby league will never again see.
Raudonikis played for Western Suburbs and Newtown Jets, NSW and Australia.
He was probably best remembered for his famous cattledog cry while coaching the Blues in 1997. It was a call which sparked some wild State of Origin brawls that summed up the on-field rivalry between the states.
But Raudonikis was also one of the game's most colourful characters, a favourite on the speaking circuit.
It was this side of him which I will always remember coming into contact with.
An interview with him at Port Macquarie - where I was working with the Port Macquarie News - turned into a day's fishing.
"Let's go and see what these fishermen are catching, Matty," he said, obviously keen to wet a line while promoting his upcoming event at a local pub that night.
The fishermen at the pier were stunned when Raudonikis appeared in his sky blue T-shirt with Cattledog emblazoned across the front.
They gave him a rod, and in less than a minute, he reeled in a blackfish. It was a day at work which I will never forget.
The comment from one of the fishermen there was just as memorable. "Let's hope we can do this to Queensland," he said ahead of the next week's Origin match.
That night, famous stories were told for the umpteenth time, but in only the way Raudonikis could.
He spoke of his rivalry with great mate Artie Beetson - the man who led Queensland against Raudonikis and NSW in that first Origin match in 1980.
He also mentioned the time he famously threw Steve Mortimer's bag out of a Brisbane hotel window in 1977 as the youngster had the audacity to claim the room's double bed.
Legendary coach Bennett led the tributes.
"He was a remarkable guy and everyone who played with him loved him," Bennett said.
"He put his body on the line and didn't let anyone down."
The fact that Prime Minister Scott Morrison mentioned his impact said something about Raudonikis' standing.
"He was one of the game's biggest characters and he'll be sadly missed amongst the rugby league family and community, and our sincere condolences to his family and to that rugby league family as well," Mr Morrison said.
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