Rugby League has lost a legend of the game.
Tommy Raudonikis was one of the game’s true characters. He was a larrikin and a story teller who could capture a room and hold them in the palm of his hand as he shared stories about the game he loved. On field, he was one of the toughest to lace a boot.
Raudonikis played 29 Tests for the Kangaroos, including two as captain and was NSW’s first State of Origin captain, representing NSW on 24 occasions. He played 201 Premiership Games for Western Suburbs Magpies and 37 for the Newtown Jets.
He lived on the Gold Coast and he loved the Titans.
Titans Chairman Dennis Watt had a long friendship with Raudonikis.
“In the 113-year history of rugby league, Tommy has been one of its greatest and most loveable characters,” Watt said.
“While a ferocious on-field competitor who held onto his Australian jersey for a full decade, his love of the game, his family and his friends also set him apart.
With the extraordinary support of his partner Trish, Tommy battled hard in recent years to win his fight against cancer. But amidst his own battles, he never forgot those who had been part of his journey and those who simply wanted to celebrate the game.
“He always went out of his way to give his time to those who followed the game. From the smallest child to the oldest grandmother, Tommy always showed the greatest respect and always showed he cared. He had time for them all.
“Often the measure of a player in rugby league is the size of his heart and there was none bigger than Tommy’s.
“It has been the good fortune of the Gold Coast Titans in recent years to have Tommy squarely in our corner. He has never lost sight of where he came from as an Australian, Blues, Wests and Newtown legend but his heart was big enough to support another battler in the Titans.
“As a club, we will never forget the motivational speech he gave to our team on their way to an upset win over the Broncos in June 2019.
“The bus pulled in to his Paradise Point home and as sick as he was at the time he inspired the team to find something extra and to not let each other down. His fighting spirit was inspirational. The Titans won 26-18. It was heartening to know that Tommy watched every Titans game while wearing the Titans’ colours.
“Our club will look to honour Tommy at our home game against the Knights on Saturday. Our players will wear black armbands in memory of a legend, a larrikin and a patron saint of all battlers.”
The Gold Coast Titans offer our condolences to Tommy’s partner Trish, his family and his friends.