The rugby league world is mourning the loss of UK international Bill Ashurst, who also played for Penrith in the 1970s.
Ashurst joined the Panthers in 1974 from Wigan with what was then a record transfer fee of 15,000 pounds.
A center and back rower, he made 46 appearances for the Panthers over three seasons, before leaving the club and returning home to England before the 1977 season, where he joined Wigan.
A legend for the Warriors, he played a total of 186 games for the club over two stints. He won the Harry Sunderland Trophy as player of the match in the English Grand Final in 1971, a rare instance where a player from the losing team won the award.
He played three Tests for Great Britain, making his debut against Australia in 1971.
He was named to the Penrith Legends Team in 2006 to mark the club’s 40th season, alongside names such as Greg Alexander and Brad Fittler.
During a visit in 2017, he toured Penrith Stadium, telling the Western Weekender the progress since the 1970s was “incredible”.
“I remember our old sheds, buying our own boots and making our own way to the floor. Heck, I was even smoking when I was playing, even at halftime!
“To be honest, I wouldn’t like the lifestyle players have these days – there’s too much pressure and way too many cellphones.”
Former Ashurst team-mate Peter Rowe was among those who paid tribute to the 74-year-old.
“RIP, Bill Ashurst, an extremely talented player, a lovely person, it was a privilege to play alongside you, my condolences to his family and many friends,” Rowe wrote on Twitter.
Ashurst was in Australia in May to take part in the Royce Simmons Charity Walk to raise money for dementia.
“Terrible news overnight hearing of the passing of Bill Ashurst,” Tigers great Garry Jack tweeted.
“I was with Bill three weeks ago in Bathurst, Bill was part of the support team for Royce’s 300km walk against dementia.
“Very sad, life is too short! My condolences to his family and his daughter Cathy. Rest in peace Billy.”
Ashurst’s playing career had a memorable postscript at the age of 40, when he came out of retirement due to a player’s strike. Playing for Runcorn Highfield, Ashurst was sent off.