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Slightly creased
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Rugby league Immortal Arthur Beetson has died aged 66 after suffering a heart attack on the Gold Coast.

Beetson was riding his bike at Paradise Point around 9:15am (AEST) on Thursday when witnesses said he suffered severe chest pains.

Ambulance officers were called to treat him at the scene but were unable to save his life.

Beetson was the first Indigenous Australian to captain a national team in any sport.

He played 28 Tests for Australia and was captain in two, in addition to skippering Queensland in the first State of Origin match in 1980.

Beetson played 235 club matches between 1963-81 in the Sydney and Brisbane first grade competitions.

He captained Eastern Suburbs to back-to-back Sydney first grade premiership wins in 1974 and 1975.

He began his stint in Sydney with Balmain in 1966, famously missing its 1969 premiership victory because of suspension, and finished up with Parramatta in 1980 before returning to Redcliffe in the Brisbane first grade competition.

His coaching career included leading the Maroons to Origin series victories in 1983, 1984 and 1989, while at the club level he was also at the helm of the Roosters and Cronulla.

NRL chief executive David Gallop says Beetson was one of the great advertisements for the game of rugby league.

"Arthur was an imposing figure in rugby league. He was an Immortal, he was an Indigenous leader not only in rugby league but in Australian sport," he said.

"He was a role model, he was a champion player, he will be sorely missed in rugby league."

Gallop says Origin would not be what it is today without the efforts of Beetson.

"When you think of the creation of Origin you think of Arthur running out that night at Lang Park and being a leader on the field, which was what he was in every team he played for," he said.

Australian Rugby League chief executive Geoff Carr said Beetson was one of the game's greats.

"I only saw him the week before last, he looked great, he was in high spirits," he said.

"He was a legend of our game and it's just a real shame."

Roosters chief executive Steve Noyce says staff at the club were shattered.

"A lot of the staff who have worked here a long time were crying in the office, they have great memories and fond moments of Arthur both on and off the field," Noyce said.

"He was certainly a legend at the Roosters and a legend in our great game and he'll be very sorely missed."
'Legend of our game'

Beetson was inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame in 2003.

In February 2008, he was named in a list of Australia's 100 Greatest Players (1908-2007) which was commissioned by the NRL and ARL to celebrate the code's centenary year in Australia.

Beetson went on to be named in the front row in Australian rugby league's Team of the Century.

He also served as part of ABC TV's commentary team when it broadcast the Sydney first grade competition.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has paid tribute to Beetson in state Parliament.

"He was the captain of our first State of Origin team, went on to coach that team many times," she said.

"He was a knockabout bloke from country Queensland - he loved his league, he loved his Queensland.

"His loss will be felt by many.

"I offer my sympathy as I know the Opposition does and all members of Parliament to his loved ones and his family."

Fellow Immortal Johnny Raper says Beetson's death was more than just a loss to rugby league.

"He was such a great footballer and gave everything to the public," he said.

"I just loved the man.

"You'd never hear a bad word about Arthur Beetson because he was such a lovable bloke."


Forum Administrator , RC Colas® & Moon Pies®
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For a moment, I thought you meant Artie Donovan.

Man, I just watched all eleven minutes. Letterman just has to roll with it.

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46,416 Posts
Kids say the darndest things...
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