Former Australian rugby league star Norm Provan dies aged 88

Norm Provan and Arthur Summons talk alongside the Provan-Summons Trophy after the 2013 NRL Grand Final match between the Sydney Roosters and the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles in Sydney in 2013. Picture: STUFF SPORTS.

Rugby league great Norm Provan, who played in the first 10 of the St. George Dragons’ record 11 consecutive premierships in Australia’s top-flight competition from 1956-1966, has died. He was 88.

The National Rugby League and the Dragons said Provan died Wednesday. He had been in ill health for several years.

Provan was immortalised in bronze as part of NRL grand final trophy alongside Western Suburbs captain Arthur Summons – with the historic scene dubbed “The Gladiators” from a newspaper photograph captured in the mud after the 1963 grand final. Summons died last year.

One of the finest second-rowers in the history of the game, Provan won his 10 league titles during St. George’s golden era. The last four of Provan’s titles came as captain-coach.

After making his debut in 1951, Provan scored 63 tries in 256 games for St. George and represented Australia in 18 matches, including two World Cups.

Sport Australia Hall of Fame chairman John Bertrand described Provan as a “gladiator” and said he was “the figurehead of St. George’s unprecedented 11-year reign.

“Norm Provan was one of Australia’s greatest – an influence on rugby league and loved by all,” Bertrand said in a statement. “Norm’s career will arguably never be matched.”

Provan was named in Australian rugby league’s team of the century in 2008 and was elevated to the league’s “Immortal” status in 2018, one of 13 players so far to achieve such status. He was unable to attend the ceremony due to his ailing health but his daughter, Sue McCloud, attending on his behalf.

“We’ve always looked up to dad. He’s always been immortal to us,” McCloud said at the ceremony. “To have him receive this, especially now, means an awful lot to all of us – and to him.”

 

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