Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
The Rugby League world was shocked and saddened to learn of Tommy Raudonikis’ passing after a long battle with cancer two days ago.
As a tribute to “Tommy Terrific”, we are taking a look back at the great man’s top five achievements in Rugby League.
LOCKING DOWN THE NSW AND AUS HALFBACK ROLE IN THE 70S
At just 21-years-old, Raudonikis would make his New South Wales Firsts in 1971, and go on to represent his state on 22 occasions, including the first-ever State of Origin game where he captained the Blues.
Just one year later, the halfback would make his International Rugby league debut for Australia, and in 1973 be named his country’s captain.
Whilst donning the green and gold of Australia, Raudonikis would win four Ashes series against Great Britain in 1973, 1974, 1978 and 1979, and two Rugby League World Cups in 1975 and 1977.
WINNING THE 1972 ROTHMANS MEDAL
Tommy Raudonikis was still yet to achieve success at clubland with his beloved Western Suburbs Magpies, but was recognised for his impeccable individual form in 1972 when he was awarded the Rothmans Medal.
Following each game, the match official would award three points to who they believed was the best and fairest on the field, and at season’s end, the player with the most points would reap the rewards of the Rothmans Medal.
WINNING THE 1977 AMCO CUP WITH THE MAGPIES
Raudonikis would make his first-grade debut with the Western Suburbs Magpies in 1969, and go on to play over 200 games for the club.
By the time 1977 rolled around, Wests had failed to win a top-flight trophy for 25 years, until “Tommy Terrific” led the club to the AMCO Cup, delivering the Magpies faithful their first piece of silverware in over two decades in a six to five victory over the Eastern Suburbs Roosters.
This achievement can be considered even more special as it was the last time Western Suburbs won a major title before merging with the Balmain Tigers in 2000.
PLAYING IN THE 1981 NSWRFL GRAND FINAL
The 1981 season was an odd one for Raudonikis, the Bathurst born half would spend some time playing for the Newtown Jets’ reserve grade side, before being called back up to first-grade late in the year to take the Blue bags to their first Grand Final since 1955.
While Newtown didn’t win the Grand Final against the Parramatta Eels, it’s good that a legend like “Tommy Terrific” got to experience playing on club Rugby League’s grand stage, and he even managed to score a try in the game.
Raudonikis’ legacy was cemented when he became the New South Wales Origin coach in 1997, whilst also coaching his beloved Magpies.
All generations now associate Raudonikis with the term “Cattle Dog’, a phrase he came up with for his side to use when they wanted to start a fight with the Queenslanders.
To this day the phrase is often used by New South Wales fans around Origin time, with the Cattle Dog becoming somewhat of a mascot for the Blues.