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Family, friends and former players send off beloved league legend Tommy Raudonikis

A who’s who of rugby league names bid the game’s biggest character, Tommy Raudonikis, a fond farewell at his funeral on the Gold Coast on Friday. 

Raudonikis passed away at Gold Coast University Hospital aged 70 last week, after numerous battles with cancer.

An outpouring of emotion for the rough and tumble halfback followed his death, with a minute’s silence observed in his honour at every NRL game last weekend. 

A resident of Paradise Point on the Gold Coast for many years, Raudonikis’ funeral at Sacred Heart Catholic Church at Clear Island Waters was attended by rugby league greats Wally Lewis, Kevin Walters, former ARL supremo Ken Arthuson as well as former SuperLeague head, John Ribot.

He was carried into the church in a casket draped in Wests and Newtown jerseys, topped by a corsage of white carnations and red roses.

Family members embraced outside Sacred Heart Catholic Church at the moving funeral service for rugby league great Tommy Raudonikis 

'To many people he was an icon, to us he was dad and pop,' said Tommy's son Lincoln in his eulogy.

‘To many people he was an icon, to us he was dad and pop,’ said Tommy’s son Lincoln in his eulogy. 

Raudonikis was given a standing ovation as his family led the hearse from the church after the service

Raudonikis was given a standing ovation as his family led the hearse from the church after the service

Olympic legend Dawn Fraser consoles Tommy's partner Trish immediately after the service

Olympic legend Dawn Fraser consoles Tommy’s partner Trish immediately after the service

Queensland great Allan Langer hugs Raudonikis' partner Trish Brown before the hearse left the church

Queensland great Allan Langer hugs Raudonikis’ partner Trish Brown before the hearse left the church

Wally Lewis (right) and Gene Miles (left) are pictured attending Sacred Heart Catholic Church at Clear Island Waters on the Gold Coast

Wally Lewis (right) and Gene Miles (left) are pictured attending Sacred Heart Catholic Church at Clear Island Waters on the Gold Coast 

Former Wallaby star Mat Rodgers attends the funeral service of Raudonikis

Fox Sports presenter Ben Ikin attends the funeral on the Gold Coast

Raudonikis was first diagnosed with cancer way back in 1986. Former Wallaby star Mat Rogers (left) and respected league commentator Ben Ikin (right) were in attendance 

Tommy Raudonikis' wife Trish Brown (left) attends the funeral for the rugby league great on Friday

Tommy Raudonikis’ wife Trish Brown (left) attends the funeral for the rugby league great on Friday 

Former Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser is pictured with her daughter. Raudonikis was carried into the church in a casket draped in Wests and Newtown jerseys, topped by a corsage of white carnations and red roses

Former Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser is pictured with her daughter. Raudonikis was carried into the church in a casket draped in Wests and Newtown jerseys, topped by a corsage of white carnations and red roses

A promotional shot of Tommy giving a cattledog a cuddle was used on the last page of the order of service

A promotional shot of Tommy giving a cattledog a cuddle was used on the last page of the order of service

Tommy’s partner Trish Brown, son Lincoln, and daughter Corryn we’re joined by a large contingent of extended family from Cowra and Wagga, where Raudonikis spent much of his youth.

Former league executive Denis Watt gave the main eulogy, noting ‘Tommy wasn’t perfect, sometimes he was a very naughty boy.’ He paid tribute to his partner Trish’s care of Tommy for 12 years, and his family for sharing him with an adoring public for so long.

Watt read a message from Roy Masters, Raudonikis’ former coach at Wests, which said: ‘He had a searing honesty and a refusal to look down on anyone.’

His son Lincoln gave a short, tearful eulogy: ‘You all knew Tommy as an icon, but we knew him as dad and pop. I love you, dad.’ Granddaughter Zali Raudonikis did a reading at the Catholic service. 

Olympic legend Dawn Fraser joined former State of Origin stars such as Allan Langer, Ben Ikin, Trevor Gillmeister, Mat Rogers, Trevor Gillmeister and Jim Dymock in sending off the famously tough halfback. Former Wests team-mates Jim Leis, Les Boyd, Wayne Smith, Graeme O’Grady and Mick Liubinskas were also spotted, as was former Jets team-mate Phil Sigsworth.

Brisbane Broncos coach Kevin Walters greats former ARL boss Ken Arthurson at the funeral service

Brisbane Broncos coach Kevin Walters greats former ARL boss Ken Arthurson at the funeral service

Raudonikis in his heyday

Raudonikis attends Magic Millions Raceday on January 14, 2017 in Gold Coast, Australia

Raudonikis passed away at Gold Coast University Hospital aged 70 last week, after numerous battles with cancer

A who's who of rugby league names bid the game's biggest character, Tommy Raudonikis, a fond farewell at his funeral on the Gold Coast on Friday

A who’s who of rugby league names bid the game’s biggest character, Tommy Raudonikis, a fond farewell at his funeral on the Gold Coast on Friday

Rabbitohs legend John Sattler, famous for breaking his jaw in the 1970 Grand Final, was aided into the service.

Old teammates and adversaries included Phil Sigsworth, Larry Corowa, Neil Pringle, Jim Leis, Col Murphy and Greg Oliphant remembered the popular figure, who made his home on the Gold Coast in recent years despite his well know hatred of Queensland.

John Singleton and former rugby league supremo John Quayle were late arrivals, Singo dressed casually in sports jacket and open necked shirt. 

Raudonikis was first diagnosed with cancer way back in 1986. For a while there, Tommy appeared indestructible as he battled testicular cancer, underwent a quadruple bypass, and later fought against throat and neck cancer.  

The tough little boy from Cowra reinvented the halfback position in league with his uncompromising style, running and tackling like a large forward despite his small stature.

He played 239 first-grade games for Western Suburbs and Newtown, 29 Tests for Australia and 24 games for NSW, including captaining the Blues in the inaugural State of Origin game in 1980.

Raudonikis’ larrikin reputation was built on his gamesmanship. He was not above using tactics long since outlawed from the game in order to get under his opponents’ skin.

Rugby league star John Sattler, who captained Souths to four premierships between 1967 and 1971, attended the service

Rugby league star John Sattler, who captained Souths to four premierships between 1967 and 1971, attended the service 

Alfie Langer (left) joined hundreds of mourners ahead of the memorial at the SCG next week

Alfie Langer (left) joined hundreds of mourners ahead of the memorial at the SCG next week 

Raudonikis was first diagnosed with cancer way back in 1986. For a while there, Tommy appeared indestructible as he battled testicular cancer, underwent a quadruple bypass, and later fought against throat and neck cancer

Raudonikis was first diagnosed with cancer way back in 1986. For a while there, Tommy appeared indestructible as he battled testicular cancer, underwent a quadruple bypass, and later fought against throat and neck cancer

This attitude was typified during his stint as coach of NSW in 1997 and 1998, when he introduced the infamous ‘cattledog’ call: a trigger for NSW forwards to start a brawl with their Queensland opponents in order to unsettle them. 

The son of migrants, raised in a transit camp, Raudonikis experienced family tragedy later in life. His 15-year-old grandson Jake Kedzlie was killed during a rugby league match at Toormina, near Coffs Harbour, in 2013. In 2017, Raudonikis’ son Simon died of cancer aged 41.

Raudonikis will be honoured with a public memorial at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday, April 19, after suggestions he would be granted a state funeral in NSW by the government were rejected.

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