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The New South Wales Rugby League would like to extend its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Eastern Suburbs premiership winner Des O’Reilly who passed away in the early hours of this morning (Monday, 7 March).

O’Reilly, born and bred in Bondi where he played his junior football for Clovelly, made his first-grade debut for Eastern Suburbs against Manly in Round 4, 1975, where he made 127 appearances for the club before moving to Cronulla in 1983, playing 14 matches for the Sharks.

A member of the 1975 Eastern Suburbs winning Grand Final side, O’Reilly quickly became renowned for his outstanding defensive qualities and later went on to play for NSW.

“The NSWRL is saddened by the news of Des O’Reilly’s passing and we wish to extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends,” NSWRL CEO David Trodden said.

“Des was a wonderful character and will be sorely missed by everyone in the Rugby League community.”

O’Reilly passed away at age 61 after a long battle with illness.