|Full name||Tommy Raudonikis|
|Born||13 April 1950|
Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia
|Died||7 April 2021 70) (aged|
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
|Height||170 cm (5 ft 7 in)|
|Weight||11 st 7 lb (73 kg)|
Tommy Raudonikis(13 April 1950 – 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.
He joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as an engineering apprentice in 1967 and spent three years under training at RAAF Base Wagga.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.Also in 2008 the Western Suburbs Magpies celebrated their centenary by inducting six inaugural members, including Raudonikis, into the club's Hall of Fame.
In 2017, Raudonikis was a weekly guest on The Footy Show and had his own segment, "The Raudonikis Report".
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.
Raudonikis' hospitalization 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).
Raudonikis was reported to have inoperable brain cancer in April 2019.Two years later, he died of the disease on the Gold Coast, Queensland, 6 days short of his 71st birthday.
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Wayne Ellis (caretaker)
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New South Wales
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