Happy Birthday Johnny Raper

Immortal and Team of the Century lock, Johnny Raper MBE, celebrated his 79th birthday yesterday (12 April).

The champion Dragon was born at Revesby on 12 April 1939 and several close friends came to his retirement village to join in the occasion. John, who played 39 Tests and captained Australia in eight of these games, has some short term memory problems, but is still happy to see family and friends. Throughout the day, family called in while some old playing mates also made a visit.

In the photo from left to right is Peter Ryan (120 games for Newtown, 14 games for Parramatta), Kevin Considine (138 games for Newtown, 9 games for Parramatta), John Raper, John Riley (1 Test, 53 games for St. George) and Billy Smith (26 Tests with 3 as captain, 229 games for St. George).

On Wednesday (11 April) about eight of John’s team-mates from Wests Newcastle, made the journey south to catch up with their old captain/coach. John had three seasons as captain/coach of the Wests Newcastle Rosellas from 1970 to 1972 and led them to the 1970 Grand Final win and first grade Premiership. He finished his career after two seasons with Kurri Kurri in 1973 and 1974.

By Barry Ross.

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