The South Sydney Rabbitohs are mourning the passing of former player and captain, Robert ‘Rocky’ Laurie, Rugby League’s first Dally M Medalist and the Club’s only Dally M winner.
Mr Robert Geoffrey Laurie, Rabbitohs Player No. 642, was born in 1956 from the timber town of Wauchope, where he played his junior football. His two younger brothers Mark and Richard Laurie also tasted first grade football in the NSWRL premiership. Mark played for Parramatta between 1982-92 and Richard played with Cronulla-Sutherland in 1985.
Mr Laurie got his nickname from the famous Australian boxer Rocky Gattelari after being caught in a scuffle at school. When he was around seven or eight years old one of his schoolteachers saw he was doing a bit of pushing and shoving and told him: "Robert, you’re acting like Rocky Gattelari", and 'Rocky' stuck from there.
Robert was signed by Eastern Suburbs in 1975 and initially played for their junior club Paddington Colts, owing to the 13-import rule being used at the time. He captained their Presidents Cup side before being finally graded by the club in 1976, making his first grade debut that year against Canterbury-Bankstown at Belmore Sports Ground in round 8. Over the next two years he played in 25 games for Eastern Suburbs.
Top Moments - Rocky Laurie Becomes the First Dally M Winner
Mr Laurie came to Souths in 1978 when the club signed super-coach Jack Gibson and showed his real flair during the 1980 season. In a surprising twist of fate Souths played the first game of the season in 1980 against the Dragons on a Saturday and Laurie won the man of the match award. Channel Ten’s Ray Warren pulled him aside after the game and jokingly said: “By the way Rocky, you’re leading the Dally M’s”. The Dally M’s were a new awards system implemented by the NSWRL and Mr Laurie would go on to be awarded Rugby League’s first Dally M award for the best and fairest player of the season and will forever be recognised by the Rabbitohs as the inaugural winner. He was also voted in the Team of the Year as best five-eighth, along with his teammate and captain Nathan Gibbs, who was voted the best second-rower of the year. He played in 64 first grade games for the Rabbitohs, scoring 16 tries and one goal, captaining the side in nine games in 1980. He also represented Country Seconds in 1980 in what was a very special year for the player and also the Club.
Later that year Eastern Suburbs signed Laurie to a two-year contract. In 1981, he represented City Firsts and NSW in two games. After his contract finished he went back home to play with the Wauchope Blues. Mr Laurie captained Country Origin in 1983, staying in Group Three for three seasons and guiding Wauchope to three successive grand finals for two losses and finally a win. He then moved to Inverell and Maitland before returning to Wauchope to finish his playing days. In 2017, he was inducted into Group Three Rugby League’s Hall of Fame.
‘Rocky’ Laurie holds a very special place in the history of the Rabbitohs and Rugby League in Australia. He remains the Club’s only Dally M Medalist and was the first player to ever be awarded the Dally M player of the year award, both of which he and his family were and are very proud.
‘Rocky’ kept in touch with many of his Rabbitohs teammates and the Club, joining a Rabbitohs Old Boys contingent that visited young Jake Spurdle in Port Macquarie in 2021 to help raise funds for his fight against cancer. ‘Rocky’ was a much loved and admired member of SPA, the Rabbitohs past players association, and he will be deeply missed by all of its members and the Club itself.
The Rabbitohs will wear black arm bands in next Saturday’s game against the Gold Coast Titans in memory of Mr Laurie.
On behalf of everyone connected to the South Sydney Rabbitohs, we offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr Robert Laurie at this difficult time.
Friday 17 June - 10am
Wauchope Football Ground
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