Frank Hyde declared in 1995: ''When Johnny Raper was born, they not only destroyed the mould, they pulped it. I rate him the finest footballer I have seen.''
Raper first blossomed during a single year at Newtown, winning his spurs for Sydney and Sydney Colts against the Great Britain tourists of 1958.
Jack Gibson played alongside him for Sydney and remembered him later as ''being small and not all that quick, but he had football instinct. There was an intensity about him. Nobody trained like he did''.
St George secretary Frank Facer convinced Raper to become a Saint, and so from 1959 began a genuinely monumental career of achievement: eight premierships with St George, 33 Tests for Australia, three Kangaroo tours, victorious Australian captain at the 1968 World Cup, and countless games at all levels at which people marvelled at his quality.
Raper was a marvellous copybook tackler, famous for his scything low dives and he had a beautiful instinct for doing the right thing with the ball in his hands.
His endurance was remarkable in days when footballers played 80 minutes.
Raper's masterpiece is generally considered to be the second Test at Swinton in 1963, in which the Australians launched a murderous 12 try onslaught — with Raper having a direct hand in nine of them.
''His was the greatest game I have ever seen,'' declared ARL chairman Bill Buckley. He stayed at Saints until 1969, appearing in 186 first-grade games for the club, before finishing his playing career at Newcastle.
Clubs: Newtown 1957–58; St George 1959–69; Wests Newcastle 1970–72; Kurri Kurri 1973–74.
Club landmarks: Won premierships with St George 1959–66.
Games for NSW: 31 (1959–70).
Tests for Australia: 33 (1959–68) — four as captain.
World Cup matches: Six (1960–68) — four as captain.
Representative landmarks: Kangaroo tours 1959–60, 1963–64, 1967–68; World Cup 1960, 1968 (captain); Inducted as one of the original Immortals 1981.