HE may not have ever represented Australia in rugby league but many consider him to be one of the greats of the game and someone who has shaped the way it is played locally.
That is how Cat Paskins and Group 3 representatives describe the great Tony Paskins who will be inducted into the inaugural Group 3 Rugby League Hall of Fame early next month.
As a footballer, Paskins’ professional sporting career started in England in 1948 where he played with an English side for seven years. In 1955 he played his last game at Wembley Stadium in front of 66,000 people and it was there that he met the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Phillip who spoke with players before the game.
Paskins and his wife Cat returned home to Australia that same year and although he was asked to play for St George Illawarra, Paskins ended up playing for the Eastern Suburbs, now known as The Sydney Roosters.
“In those days you had to live where you played,” he said.
“I could have gone on to play for Australia if I signed up with St George but Easts were my father’s team and I followed them with him since I was three years old.”
After almost four years with the Roosters, Paskins left the club and moved to Bathurst where he enjoyed another four years as captain of country teams.
During that time he was also captain of NSW and was selected to play for Australia on a New Zealand tour but was forced to pull out due to injury.
It was 1967 when Paskins and his wife bought the Bellevue Hotel on Manning Street in Tuncurry and from there they went on to do great things for local Rugby League.
Paskins started as coach of the Forster-Tuncurry Hawks and the hotel soon became the stomping ground for the club and its players.
Group 3 representative Wareen Blissett along with Daryll Moran nominated Paskins for the award.
“Some people would say he is considered to be the heart and soul of rugby league in Forster-Tuncurry,” Blissett explained.
“He’s brought about great change and professionalism and has been a great influence on the juniors.
“He really set the benchmark for other coaches as well.
"I believe he truly deserves this kind of accolade."
Four sportsmen including Paskins will be the first to be inducted into the Group 3 Rugby League Hall of Fame which will take place at the Wingham Services Club on Friday, December 6.
Paskins said he was thrilled to be added to the honour role.
“Well it’s an honour really, it’s very nice at the end of my career,” he said,
“I didn’t know they were doing this until recently, its unexpected but a nice surprise.”
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