71. Ron Coote

Lock Ron Coote played the early years of his career in the shadow of an Immortal.

From his debut with South Sydney in 1964, the rangy Coote was hailed as the heir apparent to the great Johnny Raper.

A tall and gifted athlete, Coote possessed many of Raper's qualities — he was a superb cover-defender and fast and powerful with the ball in hand. Most pundits considered it only a matter of time before he stepped into Raper's boots.

However, it was a long time coming. Raper continued to hold his place in the Australian side until 1968, but Coote's form was too good to ignore and selectors made room for him in the second row.

In 1969 and 1970, Coote made the Australian lock forward position his own.

He was named Harry Sunderland Medal winner in 1970 as Australia's best player during the Ashes series and later the same year captained Australia to World Cup triumph in England.

Business and family commitments and then injury kept him out of the Australian side over the next three seasons, but in 1974 he made up for lost time, winning a second Sunderland Medal as he helped guide Australia to the Ashes.

Coote also made a huge impact on club football, playing in nine grand finals in the space of 11 seasons with Souths and Easts. He won four titles with Souths, two with Easts, and became the first player to appear in 100 premiership matches for two separate clubs.

Position: Lock/Second row.

Clubs: South Sydney 1964–71; Eastern Suburbs 1972–78.

Club landmarks: Won premierships with Souths 1967–68, 1970–71; Won premierships with Easts 1974–75.

Games for NSW: 15 (1965–75).

Tests for Australia: 13 (1967–74).

World Cup matches: 10 (1968–75) — three as captain.

Representative landmarks: Kangaroo tour 1967–68; World Cups 1968, 1970; Captained Australia to World Cup win 1970; World Series 1975.