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Rugby league legend Harry Bath has passed away. Nicknamed 'The Old Fox' during his long career, the former St George, Balmain and Warrington forward was 83-years-old.
Bath's passing reached the St George club today where the 1958 premiership winning team are due to gather at their grand final day club function. Bath had been battling illness for a number of years.
A Hooker, second row, prop and goal kicker, Bath revolutionised forward play during a playing and coaching career that spanned four decades, in both Australia and the UK.
Bath was graded with Brisbane Souths when only 16-years-old, and won a premiership with them in 1945. He played for Queensland (1945) and NSW (1946-47) before turning 21. After moving to Sydney, Bath played in two Balmain Tigers' premiership winning sides (1946-47). A knee injury denied Bath a spot in the 1946 Australian team prompting him to take up lucrative offers in the UK.
After shifting to England, Bath played briefly with Barrow before playing over 500 games for Warrington in nine seasons. The highlight of his UK stint being the 1950 Challenge Cup Final when he captained Warrington to victory in front of a then record crowd of 106,000 people. Rated as a prolific point-scoring forward, Bath holds a Warrington club record of 363 points in the 1952-1953 season.
In 1957 and aged 32, Bath returned to Australia to link up with Saints after Balmain rejected him because of his age.
Bath then played in three grand final victories (1957-59) thus posting the unique record of never playing in a premiership losing side in Sydney.
Before hanging up his boots, Bath was sent off in the 1959 grand final, along with Manly forward Rex Mossop.
Arguably best player not to represent Australia, Harry Bath posted a number of point scoring records in the first grade and for St George:
Most goals in a grand final 1957 (8 goals from 8 attempts). Most points in a grand final 1957 (16 points). Competition top scorer 1958 (225pts). Competition top scorer 1959 (205pts). St George most goals in one season 1958 (108g). St George most points in one season 1958 (225pts). St George top point scorer 1959 (205pts).
Bath coached Balmain (1961-66) to grand finals against St George (1964 and 1966). He also coached Newtown (1969-72) and Australia (1962 and 1968-1972) where he became the sole selector of Australia's 1962 Ashes side and coached the 1968 and 1970 Australian sides to World Cup wins.
'The Old Fox' carried his aggressive forward influence into the next generation when he successfully coached a young St George Dragons side - known as 'Bath's Babes' - to two premiership victories in 1977 and 1979.
He retired from coaching in 1981.
In 2004, Bath was inducted into the Rugby League Hall of Fame. This year, he was named as one of rugby league's '100 Greatest Players'. This morning, NRL chief executive David Gallop said there would be a tribute to Harry Bath during today's grand final programme at Homebush.