Qld greats remember Origin 'Godfather' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Qld greats remember Origin 'Godfather'

23/06/2008 05:11:58 PM Comments (0)

Dick "Tosser" Turner's family reckons the pearly white gates would now be maroon and white and St Peter would be out of a job.

The siren blasted out across Lang Park at midday on Monday in a mark of respect for Queensland's long-serving Origin team manager, loved by those whose lives he touched and greatly admired by those who knew him.

Hundreds of mourners - among them past and present players, including Arthur Beetson and Darren Lockyer - politicians, rugby league administrators, friends, family and fans attended a public service at Queensland rugby league's spiritual home.

Current Queensland coach Mal Meninga and rugby league's player of the century Wally Lewis read moving tributes to Turner who died last Monday aged 76 following a long illness.

Lewis, who played 30 of his 32 Origins under Turner, unveiled a large maroon and gold plaque in his honour.

It will be prominently placed on Suncorp Stadium's walk of fame alongside the 167 players to represent Queensland since 1980.

"Tosser's plaque is twice as large as any player, as was his role in our success," said an emotional Lewis.

"Tosser, you will never be forgotten mate."

Former Origin player and coach Paul Vautin read a letter written by Turner's children saying their father would have pointed out to St Peter what he was doing wrong and would also have arranged for gates to heaven to be re-painted in Queensland colours.

Turner, who had many nicknames over the years including the "Godfather" and "Mr Slate" out of The Flintstones, was a genius at getting things done - especially for "his boys" in the Queensland team.

Ask any player from Chris Close in 1982 - Turner's first year as manager - through to a starry-eyed Ben Ikin in 1995, and they'll all tell you they were Tosser's favourite player.

He made every player feel special, especially the nervous rookies when they entered Origin camp.

He'd take their hand and lead them into every player's room and introduce them so they felt at home.

Close, who took over Turner's job in 1997, described the spindly man with the flat cap and square glasses who handed out Minties, as a man of the people.

"Everybody loves a champion and a champion is somebody who can mix at all levels and leave a little bit of himself with those people," said Close.

"Tosser could do that and he always made you feel you were the most important person in the world."

Close said Turner had an influence on Queensland's side right up until the second game, his courage to make it to the game inspiring Queensland's performance.

Not particularly religious, Close believes Queensland's 30-0 win was God's gift to a dying Turner.

"Not being a religious man myself I can't think of another way to explain the turnaround or a performance that was so complete, so pure and so committed," Close said.

"I think God arranged the whole day."

Close said Turner wouldn't want the players to think they had to win Wednesday week's series decider for him.

"I think he'd want the players to do it for Queensland because he represented the battler," said Close.

"He installed in me and everyone else on the team that it was about Queensland.

"It wasn't about the players, or the coach, it was about the battlers in Queensland who needed something to hang their hats on.

"He was so good at recognising that and even better at imparting it on to those around.

"I'm a Tosser believer and there is something special about Queensland and about Queenslanders.

"He knew it and he made us all believe it."

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