Broncos mourn death of club legend - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Broncos mourn death of club legend

By Laine Clark 09/06/2009 07:03:33 PM Comments (0)

The man synonymous with the Brisbane Broncos' rugby league success may be Wayne Bennett.

But legendary recruitment manager Cyril Connell was considered their "X factor" - by Bennett, no less.

Connell passed away after a long illness at 81 on Tuesday, less than a year after officially leaving his Broncos post.

Despite his diminutive stature, Connell was a giant at the club thanks to his uncanny knack to spot rugby league talent.

Foundation Broncos chairman Paul Morgan, who has since passed away, lured Connell from the teaching profession to be the club's first full-time recruitment officer in 1990.

"He was the best recruit we ever made," Bennett said.

To put his remarkable gift in perspective, of the 17 players in the Broncos' most recent premiership team of 2006, Connell recruited 15 of them.

But it wasn't just his eye for talent that endeared him to the Broncos.

"He was a truly remarkable man who touched so many lives," Bennett said.

"He gave so many young guys opportunities they would never have got - not only in football, but in his career as a teacher as well.

"He was an absolutely outstanding man in everything he did.

"He carried great humility wherever he went and with whoever he touched.

"Cyril's been the real x-factor (for the Broncos)."

Ivan Henjak - who succeeded Bennett as Broncos coach this season - said Connell was a true role model.

"He was a tremendously loyal man and personally a great support for me," he said.

"He probably had the biggest impact of anyone on moulding the club and its culture.

"All the qualities he had - humbleness, loyalty, passion for the Broncos and caring for people - rubbed off on the club."

Broncos CEO Bruno Cullen added: "His passing is a very sad day for the club.

"His passing will impact on many, many people and on behalf of the club I would like to wish his wife Carmel and sons Patrick and Steve our sincerest condolences.

"Cyril was probably the most well-known and respected rugby league entity through the length and breadth of Queensland."

And Connell could have laid claim to knowing the length and breadth of Queensland after opting to drive around to spot talent due to his dislike of flying.

Connell could play a bit too - the Rockhampton halfback represented Queensland 25 times between 1952-57.

He was selected for Australia against New Zealand in 1956 and toured with the 1956-57 Kangaroos alongside likes of Clive Churchill, Norm Provan, and his great Queensland mate, Bob Banks.

The Broncos named their $2 million redeveloped gym and training facility after him in 2007 and a state wide under 16 competition has his moniker.

His funeral will be held on Friday.

The Broncos will also honour the club legend at their NRL match against the Bulldogs at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

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