Qld Origin legend 'Tosser' Turner dies - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Qld Origin legend 'Tosser' Turner dies

By Wayne Heming 16/06/2008 06:28:09 PM Comments (0)

A tearful Wally Lewis says popular rugby league identity and long serving Queensland Origin manager Dick 'Tosser' Turner was a one-off.

Some of Queensland's toughest men were shedding maroon tears following Turner's death on Monday aged 76 following his battle with pancreatic cancer.

Turner, honoured as Queensland's manager of the century last week, saved many players from embarrassment during the larrikin days of State of Origin during his record reign between 1982-1996.

"We're often asked who was the most important in Queensland rugby league and to me it was two people, Ron McAuliffe and Tosser Turner," said Lewis as he fought back tears.

"We don't have either of them with us any longer but they were inspirational to every Queensland player who got to don a maroon jersey."

"Dick was a wonderful guy, he was a one off, there was nobody quite like him.

"I never saw an unhappy Queensland team while Dick Turner was manager, he was the best there was."

Turner founded FOGS (Former Origin Greats) - an organisation that helps rugby league players falling on hard times.

An emotional Gene Miles, who made his Origin debut under Turner, said Queensland had sent him off a happy man last week when he attended his last rugby league game.

An ailing Turner attend the FOGS Origin lunch and Queensland team of the century dinner the day before Origin.

When Miles wheeled him into the dressing room he was given a standing ovation by the players.

"He was one hell of a proud man when he left the sheds," said Miles.

"It couldn't have been a better goodbye."

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he was deeply saddened by Turner's passing.

"He was a legend in Queensland," Mr Rudd said.

Rugby league legend Arthur Beetson, who worked with Turner in the early days of Origin, said there was no finer Queenslander.

"I've lost a mate, Queensland has lost a great Queenslander and Australia has lost a great Australian," said Beetson.

Turner's time as manager was almost terminated in 1982 after four players - Miles, fullback Colin Scott, halfback Mark Murray and forward Rod Morris, refused to sign QRL loyalty contracts.

"Turner, get those players out," came the order from a furious McAuliffe.

"If they don't sign those contracts, they won't be playing for Queensland."

McAuliffe had four players ready to take their places if they didn't toe the line.

Turner, later given the nickname "Godfather", called the four rebels together in a hotel room before delivering their signatures to McAuliffe.

Turner had a convincing way about him but nothing came before the players' needs.

In the early days when Queensland based itself behind a park at Rushcutters Bay in Sydney the players were trying to rest before the Origin.

Intentionally or not, a gang of council workers appeared outside the team's hotel with jackhammers going full blast.

Without anyone knowing, Turner approached the workmen who ignored his request to stop work.

A little time later the noise and the workman were gone - off to the local pub after Turner gave them a bundle of cash to take the rest of the day off.

It was those sorts of things and his amazing generosity that endeared him to the players.

He would often dip into his own pocket and fly the parents of a rookie to Brisbane or Sydney to watch their son make his Origin debut.

Paul Vautin, who coached Queensland to an improbable Origin series win during the Super League split in 1995 with Turner as his manager, said he was the most sincere person he'd ever met.

"Love is not a word used between men often," said Vautin in a weekend interview.

"But I know all the guys who've been in contact with Dick over the years certainly feel an affinity, and I would say love for him."

Turner is survived by his wife Jan and three sons Michael, Richard jnr and Peter.

"He had about 169 sons with his own boys and 166 Origin players," said Miles.

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