Parramatta legend and former New South Wales and Australian representative Ken Thornett has died, aged 78.
Nicknamed “The Mayor of Parramatta”, Thornett played for the Eels between 1962 and 1971, where he made the fullback position his own.
He is currently recognised by the club, with the annual players’ player award named in his honour as well as a grandstand at the Eels’ home ground, Pirtek Stadium.
He was named in the official list of Australia’s 100 greatest players on the game’s centenary in 2008, having played 12 Tests for Australia, scoring six tries.
Inducted as one of the inaugural members of the Eels Hall of Fame in 2002, Thornett lifted the club to their first finals series in his rookie year of 1962.
He hailed from a talented sporting family. Younger brother Dick played for both the Kangaroos and Wallabies and represented Australia at the Olympics in water polo. Older sibling John was a veteran of 37 rugby Tests and captained the Wallabies in 16 Tests.
Ken Thornett also spent six seasons playing fullback for English league side Leeds, scoring 19 tries in 131 matches.
The Rhinos confirmed his death on Tuesday.
“It is with deep regret that the club has learnt of the death of 1961 Championship winning fullback Ken Thornett,” the club said.
“He was a dangerous attacking player and safe under pressure. It is said English bookies gave up giving odds on when he would drop a ball.”
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg also paid tribute.
“Sad to hear of the passing of the great Ken Thornett. On behalf of all of us at @NRL we send our condolences to his family,” he tweeted.