Sharks league legend Cliff Watson dies

Scott Bailey

Cronulla have paid tribute to legendary rugby league prop Cliff Watson, after the Englishman's death on Wednesday, aged 78.

Watson played just 39 games the Sharks from 1971-73 at the same time as fellow Brit Tommy Bishop, but made their 50-year team last year and took them to their first grand final in 1973.

The former St Helens' star spent the rest of his life living in the Cronulla area. He died after a battle with cancer.

Despite his Sharks career being limited to three seasons, Watson was a unanimous choice as one of the front rowers in the club's team of the half century. The team was announced at the start of 2017, "such was his influence and impact during the years in which he played", the club said in a statement.

"(His) most memorable (game) being the infamous premiership decider of 1973 against Manly, where Watson went into the match with torn rib cartilages, before playing a leading role despite the obvious inconvenience."

A fearsome British international, Watson played 30 Tests from 1963-71. He is a member of St Helens' hall of fame after playing more than 370 games for the English club.

"He was one of the greatest front-rowers for Great Britain ever and left an incredible mark on Cronulla as well as the game in Australia," NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said.

"Cliff's time at the Sharks was relatively short compared to the rest of his career but his impact and influence on the Club is revered to this day."

Only a week ago, Sharks pioneer and influential rugby league administrator Bob Abbott died, aged 90.

Cronulla will observe a minute's silence and wear black armbands in recognition of Watson for Saturday's home clash with Parramatta.