Graeme “Chang” Langlands celebrates his 76th birthday

Rugby League Immortal and Team of the Century member, Graeme Langlands, will turn 76 this Saturday, 2 September. It is well known that “ Chang “ has had some health issues over the past year or so and is now in a Sutherland nursing home suffering from dementia. He also has some knee problems and has just returned to his nursing home on 29 August after a week in Sutherland hospital.

During this period in hospital, he was treated for pneumonia and also had some surgery on his knee to remove some fluid. Because of the knee problems, Graeme’s doctors and his daughter, Monique, are keen for him to lose some weight. Friends can help with this by taking healthy foods such as fruit when visiting Graeme, rather than cakes and sweets.

Born in Wollongong, in the Illawarra district 80 kilometres south of Sydney, Graeme joined the St. George Dragons in 1963, playing 227 first grade games in 14 seasons. He finished with 1,554 points in Sydney football, from 86 tries and 648 goals. Currently he sits at equal 16th all-time for points scored in a career.

Graeme played the first of his 45 Tests at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 8 June 1963, when he partnered Reg Gasnier in the centres in Australia’s tight 7-3 win. His last Test was again at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 28 June 1975, in the World Series 10-all draw with England. Graeme captained Australia in 15 of his Tests and also coached his country in 16 Tests for 12 wins, a draw and three losses. During his 14 seasons in first grade, he made three Kangaroo tours to England and France (1963, 1967 and 1973), two tours to New Zealand (1965 and 1971), was a member of the 1968 winning World Cup team and also the 1972 World Cup team, as well as playing in the 1975 World Series.

He also played 33 matches for NSW between 1962 and 1975, captaining the team in many of these and also coaching the side. In 1962 he represented Country Firsts in the 18-8 defeat of City Firsts. After joining St. George, he represented City firsts in eight games, also captaining and coaching this team.

In 1976, Graeme was awarded an MBE for his services to Rugby League, in 1986 he was admitted to the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and in 1999, he became an Immortal. The Australian Rugby League named him in its Hall of Fame in 2002, in February 2008, he was named as one of the Greatest 100 Players and two months later was selected in the 17 man Team of The Century.

Although he has some health problems, Graeme still enjoys catching up with old team-mates, opposing players and friends for a coffee.

By Barry Ross

Image: NRL Imagery

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