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RugbyL: Australian league great Gasnier dies aged 74


Australian rugby league great Reg Gasnier, the outstanding international centre of the 1960s, died Sunday at the age of 74.

The former St George Dragons player died in a Sydney nursing home where he had lived for several years, the Daily Telegraph said.

He had been ill for a number of years after suffering a stroke.

Gasnier played 39 Tests for his country and scored 26 tries.

He also played 125 games for the legendary St George Dragons club side, who won a record 11 consecutive premierships between 1956 and 1966.

He was forced into retirement from the game at the age of 28 with a broken leg suffered while playing for the Kangaroos on the 1967 tour to England and France.

Gasnier made three Kangaroo tours -- 1959-60, 1963-64 and 1967-68, the last one as captain-coach -- and he also played in the 1960 World Cup final.

Known as "Puff the Magic Dragon", Gasnier had remarkable acceleration. His majestic running with the ball made him a sporting idol of Australians at the time.

In 1985 Gasnier was selected along with Graeme Langlands, Johnny Raper and Bob Fulton as an "immortal" of Australian rugby league and later that year he was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

Dragons team-mate Raper said Gasnier was a "phenomenal player".

"It's a very, very sad day," Raper told the Daily Telegraph.

"He was just a phenomenal player - the best I played with.

"He used to just say, 'Give me the ball'. We'd give it to him... and he'd score.

"He was a rare genius. He was an ornament to the game. A man who led by example and was a great captain. We will miss him dearly."

Gasnier died a day before what would have been his 75th birthday.