'Sad to hear': Rugby league rocked by death of Roosters legend

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Barry 'Bunny' Reilly, pictured here during his career with Eastern Suburbs.
Barry 'Bunny' Reilly has died at the age of 75. Images: Twitter

The rugby league community is mourning the death of Roosters legend Barry 'Bunny' Reilly.

Reilly lost his long battle with kidney failure on Wednesday night at age 75.

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Regarded as one of the most feared players in rugby league history, Reilly had reportedly been receiving daily treatment before his death.

"The Sydney Roosters are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Club Legend Barry Reilly," the club said in a statement.

"The Sydney Roosters extend their heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of Barry Reilly at this sad time."

Nicknamed 'The Axe', Reilly played 195 first grade games for Eastern Suburbs, helping the Roosters win the 1974 and 1975 premierships.

Barry 'Bunny' Reilly, pictured here during an Eastern Suburbs training session at Henson Park.
Barry 'Bunny' Reilly looks on during an Eastern Suburbs training session at Henson Park. (Photo by Greg White/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)

He famously hobbled onto the field in the final stages of the 1975 decider after tearing his calf the week before.

He played for the Roosters between 1967 and 1971, spent a year at Cronulla in 1972, before returning to Easts.

Reilly also acted as caretaker coach of the club in 1990.

In 2000 he was named in the Roosters' Team of the Century in 2000.

"I played with and against 'Bunny' and I can tell you, I much preferred the former," Ron Coote told Wide World of Sports.

"He was only little, but he had this way of driving you under the ribs and rattling your whole body.

"He got me a beauty once when I played for Souths - I think I can still feel it now. 

"Pound for pound, there probably wasn't a tougher player."

Barry 'Bunny' Reilly, pictured here with his wife, daughter and mother-in-law in 1974.
Barry 'Bunny' Reilly with his wife, daughter and mother-in-law in1974. (Photo by Keith Edward Byron/Fairfax Media via Getty Images).

Rugby league world mourns death of 'Bunny' Reilly

Coaching legend Jack Gibson once said of Reilly: “He’d play great if you needed him. 

"If it was 10-all Bunny would win the ball for you. He liked some pressure.”

Former Roosters secretary Bob Seabrook once said: “He was as tough as they come and especially so for his size.”

The Sydney Roosters also proclaiming on their website: “Pound for pound one of the toughest players to ever don the famous Red, White and Blue, Barry ‘Bunny’ Reilly was a will-of-the-wisp with ball in hand and an axe in defence for the successful Roosters sides of the 1970s.”

Tributes have been flowing in on social media.

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