The NSWRL has paid tribute to Norm Provan after the Rugby League Immortal and NSWRL Hall of Famer passed away after a long battle with illness, aged 88.
The man, affectionately known as “Sticks”, was a cornerstone of the indomitable St George Dragons team that captured a record-breaking 11 consecutive premierships from 1956-66.
He is also immortalised alongside former Western Suburbs Magpies captain Arthur Summons on the Provan-Summons trophy which is awarded to the NRL premiership winners, after the pair were captured in a famous photograph “The Gladiators” following a muddy 1963 Grand Final.
“Norm Provan was a true giant who achieved unparalleled success across all levels of the game,” NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden said.
“He represented NSW, he represented Australia and his record of playing in 10 of 11 premiership-winning teams at the Dragons is something that will never be repeated.
“He was one of the greatest players to ever lace up a boot and an equally great man off the field, who was very humble with an unassuming demeanour.
“It is fitting that he will forever be remembered with the Provan-Summons trophy as he epitomised everything that is wonderful about the game of Rugby League.”
Born in Urana in the Riverina Region on 18 December 1932, Provan played his Junior Football for the Willoughby Roos in the North Sydney District before his family relocated to the St George-Sutherland Shire region.
He was graded by St George in 1950 and played a key role in turning the Dragons into a premiership force, culminating with their record run from 1956.
The lanky backrower was strong in both attack and defence and assumed the role of captain-coach at the club in 1962 to continue their winning ways.
A fitness fanatic who believed in various drills including sandhill running at Cronulla to maintain the players fitness, Provan kept his distance from his teammates in order to make any tough decisions.
He was also a regular in the representative arena, playing his first game for NSW in 1954 before going on to play 25 games for his state including against touring sides.
He made his Test debut also in 1954, was selected for the 1956 Kangaroos Tour, was part of the 1957 victorious World Cup squad and went on to play 18 Tests for his country.
Upon his retirement in 1965 with 78,065 fans cramming in to the SCG to farewell him with another Grand Final win, Provan tried his hand at coaching.
He had stints at the Dragons (1968), Parramatta Eels (1975) before his greatest success coming at Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in 1978-79 which included their Grand Final loss in 1978.
Provan and Summons have adorned the premiership trophy since 1982 with the image symbolic of the camaraderie and mateship in Rugby League.
He was named the NSWRL Player of the Year in 1958, the NSW and ARL Teams of the Century in 2008, was inducted into the NSWRL Hall of Fame in 2017 and was named an Immortal in 2018.
“If I drop dead tomorrow, I will always be happy with the life Rugby League has given me,” Provan said in 2013.
The NSWRL offers its sincere condolences to Provan’s family and friends.