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Last whistle for rugby league legend

Australian Rugby League’s team of the century prop Duncan Hall, 85, has died in a Coolum nursing home.
Australian Rugby League’s team of the century prop Duncan Hall, 85, has died in a Coolum nursing home. Contributed

ONE of the greatest rugby league forwards ever to pull on a boot has died in a Coolum nursing home.

Duncan Hall, 85, was named in 2008 as a prop alongside Artie Beetson in the Australian Rugby League’s team of the century.

A mountain of a man with wonderful ball playing skills and the speed of a centre, Hall terrorised opposition sides both in attack and defence.

In the 1950s he was the game’s greatest player, recognised internationally as a once-in-a-generation footballer.

A former hotelier and bookmaker, Hall worked at Broncos Leagues Club towards the end of his working life.

The Duncan Hall medal, presented annually to the best and fairest player in the Queensland Cup, was won in 2009 by Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles player Tony Williams.

Hall was on hand to present the medal to the premiership winning player.

He played 22 Tests for Australian between 1948 and 1955 and 24 matches for Queensland during the same period. Coast Men of League chairman Bob Hagan said he remembered when starting his own career watching Hall play in the twilight of his and yesterday rated him as someone he was glad he never had to face.

“There was a fair gap between him and any other player in his position,” Hagan said. “He was a ball player with great speed.

“He was a great big man, a standout footballer who could run with the speed of a centre and he was also a tremendous defender.”

Hall was the first manager of the Queensland State of Origin side and took great pleasure in recent years from meeting with the team at the Hyatt Coolum.

“It was a big thrill for him, a highlight of his year,” Hagan said.

“The players always made a big fuss over him but he was a humble man.”

Hall played with Christian Brothers in Rockhampton from 1945 to 1947 before shifting in 1948 to Rockhampton’s senior league side.

He joined Valleys in Brisbane in 1949 before spending from 1950 to 1952 at Newtown in Toowoomba before a stint at Home Hill in 1953.

It was an era before big money entered the game and even the greatest players chased jobs and contracts around the country.

Queensland players who represented the state were restricted from transferring to Sydney clubs for the next 12 months, during which time they invariably played representative football which again restricted them.

In 1954 Hall returned to Brisbane and played three years with Wests before his retirement.

He coached the club to a Bulimba Cup victory in 1958 and went on to co-manage the Australian World Cup team in 1977 before being made co-manager of the first Queensland State of Origin team.

An Australian Sports Medal recipient in 2000, Hall was also inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame in 2006.