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The True Blue who won the inaugural Dally M Player of the Year award – Robert ‘Rocky’ Laurie – has been remembered as a trailblazer on several levels.

Laurie, 66, who passed away at the weekend, won the Dally M honour in 1980 and remains to this day the only South Sydney player to earn the prestigious award.

A talented centre and five-eighth, he played State of Origin in 1981 for NSW but has another career highlight that few players share.

Laurie has the distinction of playing for both NSW City – in 1981 in his second last year with Eastern Suburbs – and for NSW Country, when he returned to his hometown of Wauchope in the state’s mid-north coast hinterland, to play for the local team.

In fact, Laurie was captain-coach of Wauchope when they won the Group 3 Premiership in 1983.

Former NRL Salary Cap Auditor Ian Schubert played with Laurie for both the Under 18s Wauchope side and the Eastern Suburbs first grade outfit.

“He was a very talented player – good footwork, great hands, always understood the play,” Schubert told

“Defensively he was rock-solid. Perhaps that’s where he got his nickname from, I’m not sure, but he was as tough as teak.”

Schubert said he and Laurie were reunited in 1982 back at Easts, when then coach Bob Fulton wanted ‘Rocky’ back.

“Rocky really set the world on fire when he was at Souths because he played the game the way he wanted to play it. That meant to run the game himself and be wholly involved in all the attack.

“That’s what Bozo liked so much about Rocky as well.”

Laurie also captained an NSW Northern Division team which beat the touring British Lions side in 1988.

One of eight children, his younger brother Mark Laurie is a three-time premiership winner with Parramatta (1982, ’83, ’86).

Laurie left Wauchope as a wide-eyed 19-year-old heading to the ‘big smoke’ in 1975 where his playing skills and leadership qualities earned him the role of skipper of Eastern Suburbs’ Presidents Cup side.

He moved up into first grade in 1976 playing two seasons before shifting to arch-rivals the Rabbitohs for three years.

Laurie returned to Easts in 1981-82 before moving back north after a career that included 122 first grade games and 28 tries.

The NSWRL passes on its sincere condolences to his many family and friends.

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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