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Vale Tom Raudonikis

The Queensland Rugby League has paid its respects to former New South Wales and Australian halfback Tom Raudonikis, who passed away aged 70 after a long battle with illness.

The former Western Suburbs and Newtown star represented Australia in 29 Tests and World Cup matches, and NSW on 24 occasions.

QRL chair Bruce Hatcher always admired his toughness and his passion for the game.

“Tommy was the ultimate competitor who made a great contribution to the game in a very tough era,” Hatcher said.

“Although he was a passionate Blue, he was a much loved and respected figure here in Queensland through the work he put into his coaching with clubs like the Ipswich Jets and Norths Devils.”

While at the helm of the Jets, Raudonikis brought through Allan Langer and the Walters brothers, who would later go on to form a lethal combination at state and national level.

Raudonikis turned the Jets into a formidable force between 1985 and 1988 as the head coach of an Ipswich team that was renowned for its resilience and competitive spirit.

The loss of the club icon is set to galvanise the Jets squad ahead of their Round 3 Intrust Super Cup match against the Sunshine Coast Falcons this weekend.

“The club wishes to pay our respects to one of the men who built the very foundations of our club, a man who taught us to be tough but kind, to never quit, to never back down and never be beaten,” the Jets said in a club statement today.

Raudonikis played 200 games for the Magpies in Sydney before shifting to the Newtown Jets in 1980, where he turned in an inspiring performance in the 1981 grand final against Parramatta Eels.

He later coached NSW for two seasons in 1997-98 where he guided the Blues to a 2-1 series win in 1997 and suffered a 2-1 series loss the following season which included a narrow 24-23 defeat in the opening game.