Steve Rogers
Steve Rogers

Rogers?death shocks league


Rugby League

THE rugby league fraternity was in mourning yesterday after Sharks and Australian great Steve Rogers was found dead at his Cronulla home.

Police were not treating his death as suspicious, with early indications suggesting Rogers had suffered a heart attack.

The 51-year-old was found shortly after 9am on the landing of his unit by his brother-in-law after he had failed to make it to a breakfast get-together.

Rogers was widely regarded as one of the best players of the 1970s, a skilful footballer who was equally at home in the centres, at five-eighth or lock.

He played 21 Tests for Australia, went on three Kangaroo tours and represented NSW 20 times in a senior rugby league career that spanned from 1973 to 1986.

In 1975, Rogers received the game's highest individual honour when he was awarded the Rothmans Medal.

A veteran of 231 premiership games, including 202 for the Sharks, Rogers went on to become a successful administrator and was the general manager of the Cronulla side until he died.

Rogers played grand finals for Cronulla against Manly in 1973 and 1978 and strove to take the Sharks to a premiership title something the club had not done since entering the national competition in 1967.

"I'm a firm believer it will make people even stronger for him, I can't say much more," an emotional Cronulla chairman Barry Pierce said yesterday.

Former St George and Australian teammate Rod Reddy believed Rogers was without peer as a player when at the peak of his powers.

"I probably rated Steve Rogers in the era that I played in as the most complete player there was," Reddy said.

Former Canberra centre Mal Meninga, who roomed with Rogers on the 1982 Kangaroo tour, said Rogers had taken him under his wing and shown him the ropes "both on the footy field and off the footy field."

"He was a great character, well respected within the team and obviously he reached some really great heights as far as his career was concerned as well," Meninga said.

Quick off the mark, a silky ball player and a more than capable goalkicker, Rogers held the Sharks' all-time pointscoring record for all grades of 1281 before being overtaken by his son Mat in 2001.

Mat Rogers left the club to start a successful rugby union career in 2002.

Australian Rugby League chairman Colin Love also paid tribute to Rogers, describing him as "one of the great champions of the game's post-war years".

"Our hearts go out to Steve's family and many friends," Love said.

"His death at 51 is first and foremost a human tragedy ? but it's such a tragedy too for rugby league and for Australian sport.

"Players of such talent come along very rarely in any game ? and ours will remember him as one of the great ones." - AAP

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