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NSW great Tommy Raudonikis.

After learning that he was winning his latest fight with cancer, Tom Raudonikis sent a message to NSW players ahead of the upcoming State of Origin series.

"I've beaten cancer three times so you blokes should be able to beat Queensland three times," Raudonikis said.

Raudonikis and fellow halfback great Steve Mortimer were inducted into the NSWRL Hall of Fame at Monday's annual True Blues dinner. While unable to attend, he passed on the message through his close friend, former coach and renowned journalist Roy Masters.

The function room at The Star erupted with joy when Masters revealed that Raudonikis appeared to be winning his battle with neck cancer after fears that he would not be alive for his induction.

The former Western Suburbs and Newtown halfback has previously overcome testicular cancer and throat cancer and those closest to him had been fearing the worst.

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"He was seriously ill, he had breathing problems and there were calls in the middle of the night to get his family to see him but here is a man who epitomises what State of Origin, particularly from a NSW point of view, should be all about," Masters said.

"He has now beaten cancer three times, together with the fact he has had a quadruple bypass. On Friday we got the greatest news that any of us, as his friends, could have possibly received.

Tom Raudonikis during his coaching days.
Tom Raudonikis during his coaching days. ©NRL Photos

"I was there a few weeks earlier when the first results came through and [he had] this cancer, which was a mass in his neck, and they couldn't operate because it was too close to his carotid artery.

"He has been on this revolutionary trial of immunotherapy and the doctor on Friday called [Raudonikis's partner] Trish in … and this mass has miraculously receded.

"The medical report which has been circulated among his friends clearly indicates a position where the doctor thought all we can do is maintain things at a constant level but as a result of his will power or whatever it is, this cancer has now receded.

"And he has got a special message which he has asked me to pass on to the Blues. He said: 'I've beaten cancer three times, so you blokes should be able to beat Queensland three times'."

NSWRL chairman George Peponis paid tribute to Raudonikis and his former Canterbury team-mate Mortimer, who was the first player to captain NSW to an Origin series win in 1985.

I’ve beaten cancer three times so you blokes should be able to beat Queensland three times

Tommy Raudonikis to the NSW Blues

"I played against Tommy Raudonikis and he was one of the toughest ever halfbacks to lace on a boot," Peponis said.

"I also played alongside Steve Mortimer and have many happy memories of our time together.

"Both players epitomise the qualities, values and characteristics of NSW players and they are worthy inductees to the NSWRL The Star Hall of Fame."

Mortimer is responsible for one of the most iconic images in NSW's Origin history after captaining the Blues to their first series victory in 1985.

Steve Mortimer and the Blues in 1985 after their first series win.
Steve Mortimer and the Blues in 1985 after their first series win. ©NRL Photos

Raudonikis, who like Mortimer played his junior football in Wagga Wagga, had the distinction of playing halfback in the inaugural State of Origin match in 1980.

The NSWRL Hall of Fame inductees includes the seven Immortals who have represented NSW and 11 other players who represented their state with distinction.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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