‘One of our all-time greats’: Rugby league Immortal Johnny Raper dies, age 82

Feb 09, 2022
The end of an era with the sad passing of the last of the original four Immortals, the great Johnny Raper. Source: Getty

Rugby league Immortal and Dragons legend Johnny Rapper has sadly passed, age 82, after a long battle with dementia. 

 Former Dragons captain and chairman, Craig Young, confirmed the news today, February 9. 

“We thought he was bulletproof,” Young told, Sydney Morning Herald. “He was a character on and off the field — and one of the reasons why the club became the worldwide brand that it has.”

Considered to be one of the greatest players to ever play the game, Raper was regarded as an integral player of the St George Dragons team. He played in eight consecutive grand final wins and represented Australia 29 times, having captained Australia to victory in the 1968 World Cup. 

Already, friends and fans of Raper have started to pay tribute to the late legend. 

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys was among those to pay tribute to Raper.

“Today we have lost one of our all-time greats…Johnny was a football genius. He had a gut instinct for rugby league like few we have seen. He wasn’t the biggest player on the field, but he was the smartest. Johnny’s feats with the Dragons will remain part of rugby league legend forever,” he said.

“On behalf of the game, I send my deepest condolences to Johnny’s family, friends and teammates.”

Raper’s death flows that of another St George legend, captain Norm Proval, who died last year on October 13, 2021. 

Both Raper and Provan’s lives and careers will be commemorated at the Dragons opening home game of the 2022 season against the Penrith Panthers on Friday, March 18 at Kogarah’s Nestrata Jubilee Stadium. 

 

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