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RugbyL: Australia Test great Ian Walsh dies aged 80

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Ian Walsh, a former Australia Test captain and hooker with the great St George club side of the 1960s, has died after a long illness aged 80, the Australian Rugby League said on Thursday.

Walsh held the unique distinction of being the only player to captain-coach his club to a premiership and his country to an Ashes series win over Great Britain in the same year in 1966.

He also skippered Australia to its historic 1963 Ashes triumph against Great Britain in England, becoming the first Australian touring team in 50 years to win a series.

The Kangaroos, featuring Australian league legends Johnny Raper, Reg Gasnier and Graeme Langlands, won the first Test 28-2 at Wembley, the second Test 50-12 at Swinton before losing the third Test 16-5 at Leeds.

The only previously successful Ashes-winning team was the 1911-12 side that included New Zealand players.

"Ian Walsh was an absolute legend in our game," Australian Rugby League Commission chairman John Grant said in a statement.

"He was a great player and a great leader who had a deep love of rugby league.

"The fact that the victories that he was a part of are still so celebrated today says it all."

Walsh, renowned for his fearless running from dummy-half, joined St George in 1962 and played in five winning grand final sides in the Dragons' record run of 11 successive premierships between 1956-66.

He played 25 Tests between 1959-66, toured Great Britain with the 1959-60 and 1963-64 Kangaroos and made two tours to New Zealand. Walsh also coached NRL side Parramatta in 1971-72.

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