Brett Hodgson has reflected on the sad passing of Australia and New South Wales legend Tommy Raudonikis.
Raudonikis, who was Hodgson’s coach when he made his competitive playing debut for Western Suburbs in 1997, passed away aged 70 on Wednesday after a long battle with cancer.
Known as ‘Tommy Terrific’, the former half-back made over 200 appearances for the Western Suburbs side in the 1970s, captaining the side for most of the decade.
He represented New South Wales on 24 occasions and played 29 times for Australia in Tests and World Cup matches – twice as captain, before later becoming the New South Wales coach for the 1997 and 1998 seasons, with his spell as head coach of Western Suburbs lasting between 1995 and 1999, just as Hodgson was coming through the system.
He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1982, and in 2004, was named in Western Suburbs’ team of the century before being inducted into the NRL Hall of Fame in 2008.
Speaking of the passing of his former coach, Hodgson said: “I was really sad to read that news this morning. I have total respect for Tommy; he was my coach when I came through at the Magpies in 1997, and was there until I left in 1999.
“He was actually part of the reason I didn’t continue with the joint venture with Balmain Tigers at the time because he wasn’t going to be head coach of the new team Wests Tigers.”
He continued: “Tommy was such a a character in the game. He was a tough player and he instilled in me the toughness that you needed to be a player at that level – if you get knocked down, you get back up and you fight for every inch.
“The way he coached was based around courage and always working hard for each other. We didn’t have the most technical of game plans, and sometimes we wouldn’t even have one other than to hurt our opponents and score more points than them.
“We loved playing for him because of his passion and him wearing his heart on his sleeve. And he would hurt more than the players when we lost too, and he would ride the highs just as much as the players when we won.”