Rugby league legend Greg Hawick is being remembered as a trailblazer of the sport in the Riverina.
The Wagga and wider sporting community is mourning the loss of Hawick after he passed away on Thursday, aged 87, after a long battle with dementia.
Hawick will be remembered as one of the greatest rugby league players to play in Wagga, and certainly one of the most professional.
Hawick played in five premierships with South Sydney through the 1950s before sensationally moving to Wagga to join Kangaroos as captain-coach.
The move did not stop Hawick representing NSW and Australia. He did so, with aplomb, from Wagga and was part of the 1957 World Cup winning team.
He went on to be non-playing coach of Turvey Park and also had one season at Junee. He also returned to the city for two seasons with North Sydney in 1959-60.
Hawick was named in the 'South Sydney Dream Team', the Rabbitohs best line-up from 1908 to 2004, while he has also since been selected as five-eighth in the Australian 'Team of the 50s'.
Former teammate, workmate and close friend, Terry Baker, described Hawick as one of a kind.
"What I remember most was that when he came here as coach of the Kangaroos, he lifted Kangaroos from the bottom of the competition to a top side. We won two premierships straight off under him," Baker said.
"As far as a footballer goes, he was one of the toughest. He was the best in Group 20 and the Riverina in those days. As far as rugby league goes, he made the biggest difference in Wagga and Group 20. He was one of the main men to turn Group 20 into a top country side. After him, a lot of good coaches followed.
"He was a really good living man. He was a perfectionist as far as training and on the football field goes. He was a tough man on it but off the field, you wouldn't get a nicer man. He was a gentleman."
Dave Mulrooney played alongside Hawick towards the end of his career and will never forget those memories.
"I was just in awe of him. He was such a great example and great player," Mulrooney said.
"He was extremely tough and obviously a great player. He was a real professional and looked after himself.
"He was held in very high esteem by all those who knew him and played with him."
Wagga cricket coach Warren Smith was a close friend of Hawick and put together five books on the league legend.
"I idolised the man," Smith said.
"He was a mentor to me through cricket and a very, very humble man. He was not only that, but a very private man and cared most for his family.
"He was the best player to ever come to the Riverina by a mile."
Kangaroos president Peter Hurst said Hawick will be remembered as a legend of the club.
"He's right up there as one of the most decorated players to play for the club," Hurst said.
"He was a supreme athlete and well ahead of his time in discipline and fitness. No one played the game as hard or more passionate than Greg."
Hawick led Kangaroos to their first ever premiership in 1962 and followed it up with another grand final success in 1963.
He finished with 84 first-grade games for South Sydney and scored 19 tries, kicked 62 goals for a total of 181 career points
Hawick is survived by his wife Maureen and was the father of four children David, Anne, Louise and Missy. A private funeral will be held.
One of his seven grandchildren, Andrew Wild, paid tribute to his Pop.
"Pop was one of my heroes. As I was growing up he embodied everything I wanted to become as a man," Wild said.
"He was dedicated, passionate, funny, supremely strong and fit and the ultimate family man."