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Title: ... p100 - Orbituary for Dick Thornett - by Brad Forrest

BY BRAD FORREST

12 Oct, 2011 02:58 PM

RUGBY league and sport is in mourning following the death of Dick Thornett, the former 1960 water polo Olympian and one of the rare sportsmen to have represented Australia in three sports.

The Parramatta and Australian rugby union and rugby league star died in Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital this morning, following a long illness, and followed the death of former Test half and former referee, Keith Holman, in Sutherland Hospital.

Thornett’s close friend and former Test league forward, Jim Hall, said Thornett had suffered heart problems and ‘‘associated problems’’ which had forced him off his farm in Milthorpe, near Bathurst.

‘‘Dick was not only one of our best sportsmen, he was also a champion bloke,’’ said Hall. ‘‘We’d known each other since we were kids, when we were in the [police] force together...my first game of football was against Dick’s Parramatta side.’’

Thornett grew up in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and later played rugby for Randwick (1958 to 1962), and a member of the 1959 first grade premiership winning team.

He represented Australia at the 1960 Rome Olympics, but the next year won Australian Wallaby selection, going on to play 11 Tests and touring South Africa and New Zealand.

In 1963, aged 23, he switched codes and joined the Parramatta Eels, going on to play 168 first grade games over nine seasons.

He made his league Test debut against the first and only South African team to tour Australia, playing in both winning Tests, before touring England and France with the Kangaroos - the first All Australian team to bring the Ashes back (the 1912 team had also won the series in England but they contained four New Zealanders).

Dick played in all three tests. All up he played 11 league tests, five against Great Britain, four against France and the two with South Africa and was a member of the 1968 Australian World Cup winning side captained by Johnny Raper which defeated France 20-2 at the Sydney Cricket Ground before 54,290 fans.

The Roosters signed Dick in 1972 and he played just the one year.

He was the youngest of three brothers, the oldest John, now 70, played 37 tests for the Wallabies, mainly as a prop, and captained Australia in 16 tests from 1962 to 1967. John and Dick played eight union tests together.

Middle brother Ken played 12 league tests for Australia and toured with Dick on the 1963 Kangaroo tour to England and France.

Appears in the following pages ....P100_Dick Thornett
Date of posting ... 09-May-2012
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