Off the Wall

Rex Mossop, who passed away on Saturday after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, was a giant of the game on the field for Manly, New South Wales and Australia, and a giant among the games broadcasters.

His rugby league playing achievements were remarkable given that he did not make his first grade debut until 1956 after a very successful union career, followed by five years playing rugby league in the UK. He played more than 100 first grade games for Manly.

He forced his way in the Kangaroos team in 1958, at the age of 30, playing nine tests and three world cup matches.

When his playing career ended he made his mark in television, being the dominant broadcaster for Seven and Ten from the late 1960's until his retirement in 1992.

He was the first commentator for State of Origin when it began in 1980, and hosted number of top rating rugby league programmes for the Seven network.

I can just recall him as a player, and I can certainly recall him as a colourful, and controversial broadcaster. I can also certainly recall his unashamed Manly bias!

Rex was named in the best ever Manly rugby league and rugby union teams a few years ago.

But we learned to live with his Manly bias - and with his tautology!

Just as it is difficult to compare players from different eras, it is difficult to compare commentators from different eras as well.

When Mossop was broadcasting for Seven and Ten he did not have access to the technology callers have today - and many of his broadcasts had to be made from the sideline.

At least he called only the game, unlike modern day commentators who seem to spend as much time calling the odds, calling each other names, and promoting forthcoming programmes, as they do calling the play!

Rex Mossop made his mark, and he did it his way.

He was a giant of our great game.