The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Former Australia captain Reg Gasnier, dubbed Prince of Centers, dies at 74

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SYDNEY - Reg Gasnier, who became Australia's youngest rugby league captain and is regarded as one of the sport's greatest players, died in Sydney on Sunday, a day short of his 75th birthday.

Gasnier, who was dubbed the Prince of Centers, was named Australia captain in 1962 aged 23 years, 28 days. He played 39 tests between 1959, when he was selected after just four first grade games, and 1967 when he was forced to retire after breaking his leg during a match in France.

Gasnier played 127 premiership matches for St. George, appearing in seven grand finals during the period when the club won a record 11 consecutive titles in the competition that preceded the National Rugby League.

In 1981 he was included among the four original "Immortals" of the game.

Gasnier's health declined after he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and he later had a stroke.

Johnny Raper, Gasnier's ex-teammate at St. George and fellow rugby league "Immortal," described his long-time friend as an "ornament to the game."

"He was a rare genius," Raper told News Corporation newspapers. "A man who led by example and was a great captain. Away from fotball, he was a great man. A wonderful citizen. We will miss him dearly."

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