Rugby league great Tommy Raudonikis has revealed he has throat cancer, but forever the fighter, NSW's inaugural captain has vowed he'll survive the latest threat to his health.
Raudonikis announced that he'd received the confronting diagnosis on 2GB radio in Australia before kick-off on Wednesday night but said the doctor had told him the cancer is treatable.
The loveable rogue had been a heavy smoker and has spoken with a raspy voice for decades, but noticed it had worsened since he returned from a World Cup tour he helped host to the UK last year.
Raudonikis said he was remaining positive and was taking inspiration from Newcastle Knights player Alex McKinnon who was at Wednesday night's Origin with his partner.
McKinnon was in the Channel Nine commentary box and Raudonikis said he was moved by the courage shown by the Knights forward who is fighting to be able to walk again after a tackle gone wrong in a match against Melbourne.
Raudonikis was moved by a tragedy in his own family last year, when his 15-year-old grandson Jake Kedzlie died while playing for Sawtell junior rugby league club after he knocked his head against the knee of a player he'd tackled.
The 64-year-old played 24 games for NSW and in the first State of Origin game in 1980.
After battling testicular cancer and four heart by-passes, Raudonikis said he was ready for his next fight as he prepares to undergo six weeks of radiation therapy.
"Look, it's part of life really. These things happen. You talk to Alex McKinnon and his beautiful girl and look at the mishap that happened to him and it's awful ... damn awful," he told 2GB's Continuous Call Team program.
"I am going to survive. I've got a bit of a hard road coming up.
"I'm just concerned about my partner Trish, but I just carry on ... I've got all the diseases and I'm still alive.
"They've said it's very curable."
Raudonikis also coached the Blues in 1997 and 98 and has gone down in interstate folklore for the "Cattledog" call he initiated, which was the signal for NSW to break from a scrum with fists flying.
During Origin I at Suncorp Stadium, Raudonikis was specially recognised on the field as part of the concept's 100th game celebrations.
Raudonikis enjoyed a distinguished career for Western Suburbs and Newtown, before coaching the Magpies in the 1990s up until they merged with Wests Tigers.
As well as going down as one of the game's best halfbacks and one of the toughest players of his generation, Raudonikis is known for his larrikin sense of humour and his love of a beer.
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