Rugby League mourns loss of John

Former Dragons and representative prop forward John Wittenberg has died, aged 67, after suffering a heart attack while working on his Wauchope property last week.

Hailing from Wide Bay in Queensland, Wittenberg played for Toowoomba and then Theodore, representing Queensland against New South Wales in 1962. He made his Test debut in the 1966 Ashes series. Wittenberg then tried to link up with St George but was blocked by the Queensland Rugby League, forcing the star forward to sit out the 1967 season and miss out on touring with the Kangaroos.

With the ban lifted, Wittenberg went on to play three seasons for St George from 1968 to 1970. In the same period, he represented NSW, playing against his old state. Further representaive honours followed in the 1968 World Cup and in Tests against New Zealand and Great Britain.

Former Australian and Dragons captain-coach Graeme Langlands remembers John Wittenberg as one of the toughest forwards of his era.

"He was very, very tough," said Langlands.

"He lost half a hand in an accident with farming equipment before he came to Sydney but it didn't worry him.

"He told me that when he resumed playing after the accident the tops of the finger stumps would bleed during matches.

"He didn't let it worry him."

John Wittenberg made 53 appearances for Saints, scoring four tries, and played six Tests for Australia. He is the third Dragon to pass away in the last three months. In October, former club official Laurie Doust died suddenly, aged 84. Legendary forward and club official Robert Stone passed away in August, aged 49.