Vale John Raper MBE
Esteemed Member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame
12/04/1939 – 09/02/2022
The Sport Australia Hall of Fame is mourning the passing of esteemed Member John Raper MBE who passed away after a long battle with dementia on Wednesday, February 9, 2022 at the age of 82.
Raper was regarded as the greatest lock forward to ever play rugby league and some experts rated him as the best player ever. He had a reputation as the game’s finest cover-defender with a superb tackling technique, while he also possessed a slick running game and brilliant passing skills. He had the rare qualities of being creative, clever and one of the greatest cover defenders the game has seen. He was affectionately known as one of the game’s greatest characters.
He made his representative debut in 1958 in a match for Sydney Colts against Great Britain, the first of many confrontations with the Englishmen. Raper switched to the St George club in 1959 and added another dimension to what was already a champion side – he played superbly in that season and represented NSW, Australia in three Tests against NZ, making his Test debut at five-eighth, and toured with the Kangaroos in a year in which St George won the premiership while going through the season undefeated.
Raper went on to play 185 matches in 11 seasons for St George – winning eight Premierships – giving him a tally of 222 first-grade matches throughout his career, as well as 24 matches for New South Wales between 1959 and 1970, and 33 Test matches for Australia between 1959 and 1968,
Sport Australia Hall of Fame Chair John Bertrand AO said; “John “Chook” Raper was a star on the field and man of great standing off it. As one of three Legends of Australian Sport who played rugby league – alongside Reg Gasnier and Wally Lewis – John was regarded by many as one of the greatest rugby league players of all time and was certainly one of the game’s biggest characters.
I send my sincere condolences to John’s wife Carol and two sons Aaron and Stuart and their families, his friends and all those who knew John throughout the NRL, his beloved St George Illawarra Dragons RLFC and wider sporting community as we lose another Immortal.”
Read John Raper’s full biography here.