Tommy Raudonikis

Tommy Raudonikis
Raudonikis in c. 1978
Personal information
Full name Tommy Raudonikis OAM
Born (1950-04-13)13 April 1950
Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia
Died 7 April 2021(2021-04-07) (aged 70)[1]
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Playing information
Height 170 cm (5 ft 7 in)[2]
Weight 11 st 7 lb (73 kg)[2]
Position Halfback
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1969–79 Western Suburbs 201 29 0 0 116
1980–82 Newtown Jets 37 4 0 0 16
1983 Brothers (Brisbane)
Total 238 33 0 0 132
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1971–80 New South Wales 24 11 0 0 33
1971–80 Australia 20 2 0 0 6
1972–80 NSW City 8 4 0 0 12
Coaching information
Years Team Gms W D L W%
1976 Western Suburbs 0 0 0 0
1983 Brothers (Brisbane)
Norths (Brisbane)
Ipswich Jets
1995–99 Western Suburbs 114 39 1 74 34
Total 114 39 1 74 34
Years Team Gms W D L W%
1997–98 New South Wales 6 3 0 3 50
Source: [3] [4]

Tommy Raudonikis OAM (13 April 1950[4] – 7 April 2021) was an Australian rugby league footballer and coach. He played 40 International games and World Cup games as Australia representative halfback and captained his country in two matches of the 1973 Kangaroo tour.


Raudonikis was born in Bathurst, New South Wales, the son of a Lithuanian immigrant father and a Swiss immigrant mother. He grew up in Cowra.[4]

He joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as an engineering apprentice in 1967 and spent three years under training at RAAF Base Wagga.

Club playing career

Raudonikis played 201 games for the Western Suburbs Magpies between 1969 and 1979. Raudonikis quickly established himself of one of the Leagues top players when in 1972 he won the Rothmans Medal, as judged by the NSWRL referees as the best and fairest player in the competition. Led by Raudonikis and the likes of Graeme O'Grady, Les Boyd, John Donnelly the Magpies enjoyed several finals appearances in the late 70's, including winning the 1977 Amco Cup and the Minor Premiership in 1978. Raudonikis epitomized the "Fibros versus Silvertails" rivalry with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles stoked by Western Suburbs coach Roy Masters. However, Premiership success eluded the Lidcombe based club.

Along with fellow Magpies Graeme O'Grady and Steve Blythe, Raudonikis moved from Western Suburbs to the Newtown Jets, playing 37 games in three seasons between 1980 and 1982. He captained the Jets to the 1981 NSWRL Grand Final against Parramatta. He scored a try early in the second of the half of the match but Newtown would eventually be defeated 20 points to 11.

He moved to Queensland in 1983 where he was captain-coach of the Brothers club in Brisbane.

In September 2004 he was named in the Western Suburbs Magpies team of the century.

Raudonikis was Western Suburbs club captain from 1971 to 1979, and was Newtown club captain from 1980 to 1982.[6]

Representative playing career

Raudonikis was first selected in an Australian squad in 1971 behind Souths halfback Bob Grant and made his run on debut in 1972 against the Kiwis (the same year he won the Rothmans Medal for best club player for the season). He was the regular Test halfback for the next six years. He made Test appearances up until 1980 by which time he was being challenged by Greg Oliphant and Steve Mortimer.

He was the captain of the New South Wales State of Origin team in the inaugural 1980 "Origin" contest. Queensland won 20-10 with Raudonikis, in his one-and-only Origin appearance. Having been knocked out early in the game he would have little impact despite scoring a late try for the losers.

  • NSW and Australian halfback throughout the 1970s
  • Coached NSW Blues in 1997 and 1998 Origin Series
  • NSW Sporting Hall of Fame
  • Kangaroos captain in 1973 for the deciding Ashes test against Great Britain (won 15–5) and the opening test against France (won 21–9)
  • 29 Test and World Cup caps


Raudonikis in 2008
  • Awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1982
  • Team of the Century with Wests Tigers and Western Suburbs
  • Wests Magpies # 1 club man in 100 years and Magpie Immortal
  • Voted Newtown's Greatest Import in 100 years
  • Men of League's Toughest 12 in last 50 years
  • ARL's greatest 100 in past 100 years

Coaching career

Raudonikis' final playing year was in a captain coach role at Brisbane Brothers in 1983. He later coached Brisbane Norths and the Ipswich Jets in the Brisbane Rugby League premiership. Returning to Sydney, he was coach of the Western Suburbs Magpies from 1995 until the formation of the Wests Tigers joint venture with the Balmain Tigers at the end of 1999. He had some initial coaching success making the finals in 1996, but Wests were ultimately unable to build on this and only won six games in their final two seasons.

Raudonikis coached the Blues in the 1997 and 1998 series. In those series he entered State of Origin folklore when he introduced the "cattle dog" call to which NSW players responded by breaking from the scrum with fists flying, resulting in two infamous all-in-brawls.

Media career

Raudonikis was a long-term friend of 2GB radio station owner John Singleton. Through this friendship, he also participated as a commentator for the Continuous Call Team with Ray Hadley on 2GB.

Raudonikis made an appearance in the 2007 rugby league drama film The Final Winter.[8]

Raudonikis at one stage worked as a part of the Channel 9 rugby league commentary team.

In February 2008, Raudonikis was named in the 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.[9][10] Also in 2008 the Western Suburbs Magpies celebrated their centenary by inducting six inaugural members, including Raudonikis, into the club's Hall of Fame.[11]

In 2017, Raudonikis was a weekly guest on The Footy Show and had his own segment, "The Raudonikis Report".[12][13]

Personal life

His son Lincoln Raudonikis played two seasons for the Western Suburbs in the NRL during the late 1990s. In April 2013, Raudonikis's 15-year-old grandson died at a Coffs Harbour hospital following a head knock that occurred during a junior rugby league match.[14]

Health and death

Raudonikis' hospitalisation in August 2006 for a heart bypass operation received national coverage and drew messages of support from a spectrum of famous former players including Wests icon Arthur Summons (the subject of the NRL trophy with Norm Provan).[15]

Raudonikis was reported to have inoperable cancer in April 2019.[16] Two years later, he died of the disease on the Gold Coast, Queensland, six days short of his 71st birthday.[17][18][19]


  1. ^ "League legend Tommy Raudonikis dead at 70".
  2. ^ a b "World Series". Rugby League Week. 1975–1976. p. 85.
  3. ^ RL stats
  4. ^ a b c "Tom Raudonikis - Career Stats & Summary". Rugby League Project. Retrieved 7 April 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Alan Whiticker & Glen Hudson (2007). The Encyclopedia of Rugby League Players. Wetherill Park, New South Wales: Gary Allen Pty Ltd. p. 453. ISBN 978-1-877082-93-1.
  6. ^ Rugby League Project
  7. ^ Roy Masters (2 August 2006). "Tom terrific after heart cops beating". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
  8. ^ Douglas Kennedy and Elissa Blake (19 August 2007). "League legends in The Final Winter". The Sunday Mail. Australia: Queensland Newspapers. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
  9. ^ Peter Cassidy (23 February 2008). "Controversy reigns as NRL releases top 100 players". Macquarie National News. Archived from the original on 25 February 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2008.
  10. ^ "Centenary of Rugby League – The Players". NRL & ARL. 23 February 2008. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2008.
  11. ^ (2008). "Western Suburbs Magpies Hall of Fame". Wests Archives. Western Suburbs Magpies R.L.F.C. Archived from the original on 14 October 2008. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
  12. ^ "Tommy Raudonikis drops F-bomb on Footy Show".
  13. ^ "NRL The Raudonikis Report - Sport News Headlines - Nine Wide World of Sports".
  14. ^ "Raudonikis family devastated by grandson's football death". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 9 April 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ Roy Masters (2 August 2006). "Tom terrific after heart cops beating". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 July 2008.
  16. ^ "'It's inoperable': Rugby league legend's devastating cancer update". Yahoo Sports. 13 April 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ Bailey, Scott; Whaley, Pamela; Wenzel, Murray (7 April 2021). "Raudonikis' spirit lives on in modern game". Port Lincoln Times. Retrieved 7 April 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ "Tommy Raudonikis's spirit lives on in rugby league following his death at age 70". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 7 April 2021. Retrieved 7 April 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ Dakin, Rebecca (7 April 2021). "Rugby league legend Tommy Raudonikis dies aged 70". Retrieved 7 April 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links


Sporting positions
Preceded by
Wayne Ellis (caretaker)
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Western Suburbs

Succeeded by
Club merged
Preceded by
Phil Gould
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New South Wales

Succeeded by
Wayne Pearce
Preceded by
Don Parish
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Western Suburbs

Succeeded by
Keith Holman
Preceded by
Bob McCarthy

Succeeded by
Arthur Beetson

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