Sports fans around Australia are in mourning following the shock death of NRL superstar Steve Folkes.
The 59-year-old, who played 245 games for the Canterbury Bulldogs, was found dead in his Sydney home, his club confirmed on Tuesday. The cause of death is believed to be a heart attack.
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs said in a statement that Folkes was loved by fans and players alike.
“The club is shocked and saddened at the news of the passing of Bulldogs legend Steve Folkes,” Chief executive Andrew Hill said on behalf of the team. “Steve played such a major part in the history of the Bulldogs, both as a player and coach, and was without doubt one of the giants of the club.
“Steve symbolised everything that the Bulldogs stand for and was respected throughout the game for his toughness and determination. He never took a backward step and was loved by the fans for his courage and commitment to the club.
“His legacy as a Bulldog and what he did for the club will never be forgotten and our hearts go out to his family and friends at this difficult time.
“The club asks that everyone respect the privacy of the family during this time.”
Steve was a forward for the popular Sydney team before he retired from the game in 1991. He went on to be a coach for a further 11 seasons, before retiring in 2008.
In addition to playing for the Bulldogs, he also represented New South Wales in the State of Origin, as well as playing for the Kangaroos in the late 1980s.
Devastated fans have paid their respects to Steve and his family online.
Seven Sports editor Jim Wilson wrote: “Very sad news, the passing of Steve Folkes – multiple premiership winning player and coached 2004 @NRL_Bulldogs p’ship team – our thoughts with family”. Journalist Matt Attard added: “Oh no. That is absolutely shocking news about Steve Folkes. Rest in peace to the premiership winning club legend. #ripfolkesy,” while sports editor Simon McLoughlin added: “Stunned to see Steve Folkes has died aged 59. Mate of mine who played against him back in the day said he was the only bloke he feared running at in defence. Hardest tackler he ever saw”.
So sad and shocked to hear the news. Deepest condolences to his family. May he Rest In Peace ????
— Brave Dog (@Bravedog18) February 27, 2018