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The NSWRL is deeply saddened to hear of the passing this morning of former Illawarra Steelers chairman Peter Newell OAM, aged 71.

Newell is credited for the role he played with then Illawarra Rugby League Secretary Bob Millward OAM to have the Illawarra Steelers admitted to the NSWRL Premiership competition (now the National Rugby League) in 1982. He was the Managing Editor of the Illawarra Mercury at the time.

He later joined the Steelers Board in 1989, and was chairman for 20 years from 1999 to 2019. He played a key role in the Steelers' decision to remain loyal to the Australian Rugby League during the breakaway Super League "war" of 1997, and, working alongside Millward, helped negotiate Illawarra's merger with St George to form the St George-Illawarra Dragons in 1999.

He was awarded a medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2003 for his service to the community.

Newell also served as chairman of ClubsNSW Board from 2004 for 15 years; and was ClubsAustralia chairman from 2007 to 2018.

Millward, currently the NSWRL President said: “Peter left an enormous legacy to the Illawarra and South Coast region, both on the sporting field and in the general community.

“His other great legacy is the role he played to lead ClubsNSW and ClubsAustralia. His service to the organisation was outstanding and he made such a success of the role that he was unanimously returned to it year after year.”

The NSWRL sends its sincere condolences to his wife Judy and his family and friends.