Australian rugby league great Johnny Raper dies aged 82 after dementia battle

Tributes have quickly poured in following the death of rugby league ‘Immortal’ Johnny Raper, who had been suffering from dementia

The rugby league world is mourning the death of Australian great Johnny Raper at the age of 82.

Raper, a legend of St George Dragons, passed away surrounded by his family and close friends after suffering a long battle with dementia – with his death confirmed by St George Illawarra club chairman Craig Young.

Tributes immediately poured in for Raper, who featured in eight consecutive NRL premierships for the Dragons from 1959, and also represented the Australian Kangaroos in 39 tests.

Young himself told the Sydney Morning Herald: “We thought he was bulletproof. “He was a character on and off the field — and one of the reasons why the club became the worldwide brand that it has.’

Meanwhile, Australian Rugby League chairman Peter V’landys said: “Johnny was a football genius.

Johnny Raper passed away surrounded by family and close friends


Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

“He had a gut instinct for rugby league like few we have seen. He wasn’t the biggest player on the field, but he was the smartest.”

Raper was one of the Immortals – going down as one of Australia’s greatest ever players within the sport.

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