His son Dane is a Rugby League World Cup winner, a State of Origin superstar and a prized signing for the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
However, Ray Gagai holds his own little slice of rugby league history – the first ever try scorer in the Intrust Super Cup.
And his tale is a poignant reminder it’s never too late to leave a permanent imprint on the game.
While some may know Gagai Snr was a talented footballer in his own right, there was more to him than a fleeting lower grade career with the Brisbane Broncos.
Sure, he played alongside the likes of Steve Renouf, Willie Carne, Andrew Gee, Paul Hauff and Alan Cann in his youth, but he also kicked plenty of goals when he returned to his hometown of Mackay.
In 1991 he was part of a revolution, playing in a North Queensland side which became the first country team to win the old-format State League over a short season.
With the floodgates open, Gagai Snr later featured in the champion Mackay sides of 1993-94, scoring a double in the ’94 final against Wests.
He played until his late 30s, and was still poaching tries in grand finals towards the end of his career.
Gagai Snr’s defining moment though may well be that he notched the opening try of what is now the Intrust Super Cup, when the State League format expanded to a full season of fixtures.
In fact, the speedster from the north grabbed himself a hat-trick on that momentous day, as the Mackay Sea Eagles took on the Wynnum Manly Seagulls at Kougari Oval on March 30, 1996.
The competition enters into a 23rd season this weekend and has grown in stature each year.
QRL competitions manager Dave Maiden said Ray Gagai’s story was timely, in a season when many former Under 20 National Youth Competition players are returning to their roots in the bush.
“The figures we have seen so far indicate a strong number of players will feature for their hometown now that the NYC competition has been disbanded,” Maiden said.
“This was something we anticipated in the proposal to build a different pathway, and we believe it’s a positive for the game, the players and their families.
“Time and time again we have seen players get a second wind when they return to community-based football and it ensures the enjoyment factor remains prominent.
“There are many measures to success in life and Ray Gagai is a shining example of how you can make your mark in a whole host of different ways.”
This year’s Intrust Super Cup season beings on Saturday with the Sunshine Coast Falcons hosting the Burleigh Bears in the Channel 9 televised game at 1.10pm (AEST).
Mackay – now known as the Cutters – will tackle northern rival Townsville at Stadium Mackay at 6pm that evening.