Australian rugby league champion Ron Coote AM will be recognised with the highest national sporting honour that can be bestowed when he is inducted into the prestigious Sport Australia Hall of Fame next month.
With a premiership record that few will ever beat, Coote will join six other sporting elites officially inducted at The Sport Australia Hall of Fame Annual Induction and Awards Gala Dinner, proudly presented by Etihad Airways, on Thursday, 10 October at Crown Melbourne.
Widely regarded as one of the great lock forwards of all time, Coote has earned his place among our sporting champions. The former South Sydney and Eastern Suburbs representative played in nine grand finals for an impressive six premiership victories.
Add to that record 23 test and world cup caps and 259 league games, Coote is without doubt one of the nation’s finest league footballers.
Coote’s contribution to rugby league extends beyond the field. In 2000, the 68-year-old founded the ‘Men of League’ program – a support network for players, officials and referees in times of need.
A humble and gracious Coote, who was inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame in 2005, paid tribute to those around him who helped shape what is being recognised as an incredible career.
“I was lucky to have a lot of highlights throughout my career but the induction into The Sport Australia Hall of Fame is certainly a great highlight for me in my life and also for my family,” Coote said.
“I had a lot of good players that I played with and we had the desire to win and everything we did was to help each other. As a team we were like a family and kept close relationships with everyone and still do today with a lot of them.
“We had some good coaches and that was a great thing too, but basically it was the camaraderie we generated through the players.
“All our attitudes were the same, we had to win for ourselves first and then the club second and I think that carried through to our winning attitude and winning performance.
“Individual motivation comes from within but because you work pretty closely as a family and you didn’t want to let them down so you had to do your best at all times.”
The Chief Executive of the National Rugby League Mr Dave Smith said that Ron Coote would stand as one of the most inspirational figures in the history of the game.
“He was a legend as a player, a man his team mates looked to as ‘solid’ simply because he would never let anyone down,” Smith said.
“That strength of character has carried on as Ron used his business skills to reach out to those who had fallen on tough times through the establishment of the Men of League Foundation.
“Ron Coote is one of the most respected people in rugby league and a great Australian. On behalf of everyone in the game I congratulate him being recognised by The Sport Australia Hall of Fame.”
Robert de Castella, Chairman of The Sport Australia Hall of Fame selection committee acknowledged Coote and his sporting contributions as “one of the greatest ever league players who had the ability to win matches and swing the result into his teams favour.”
“With team sports, it’s hard sometimes to appreciate the contribution of the individual but to have someone who is acknowledged as a game winner and then to contribute to their team to the success that he has, is incredible,” de Castella added.
Established in 1985, The Sport Australia Hall of Fame aims to preserve and celebrate the history of Australian Sport and excite the next generation of Australians to achieve their potential both in sport and in life.
With a vision and values built around the words of the first Inductee and Legend, Sir Donald Bradman AC, The Sport Australia Hall of Fame is determined to carry to all Australians everywhere the symbol of excellence, as represented by its 518 Members across all sports and genders.