Hundreds gather to farewell rugby league immortal Graeme Langlands

Immortal: St George Dragons legend Graeme Langlands stands in front of the Kogarah Oval grandstand before training in August, 1973. Picture: Grant Peterson/Fairfax Media
Immortal: St George Dragons legend Graeme Langlands stands in front of the Kogarah Oval grandstand before training in August, 1973. Picture: Grant Peterson/Fairfax Media

Hundreds gathered to farewell rugby league legend Graeme Langlands at a memorial service in Sydney's south on Monday. 

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg was among those in attendance at the Woronora Memorial Park service held in Sutherland. 

Last week he spoke of the rugby league community's loss.

"He was such a dominant player in his era … so many fans would remember growing up watching 'Changa' at his best," Greenberg said.

"It is a sad loss for the rugby league community and especially for those closest to him."

The ABC reported that Langlands' daughter, Monique, said at the service he had struggled "off the field". 

"On the field, there's no doubt that his life was complete," Ms Langlands said. 

"However, off the field, he was a man who struggled at times to find a peaceful ease, like normal life was just never a natural fit."

The 76-year-old died on January 20 in his Sutherland nursing home after months of poor health.

"Graeme was in very poor health and suffering from a number of chronic diseases," his family said in a statement last week.

"His family are relieved by the nurse's advice that his passing was peaceful and painless."

Langlands had been suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's, his lawyer said, amid allegations of indecent treatment of a girl under 16 in the 1980s.

In their statement, the family maintained "its position that this was an improper prosecution and that the allegations are refutable on the evidence in their possession". 

During his life, Langlands played 45 Tests for Australia, including 15 as captain, and more than 200 games for the St George Dragons between 1963 and 1976.

He was one of just eight "Immortals" of the game. 

The Dragons and Langlands' family will hold a special tribute and opportunity for the public to commemorate his life at the club's opening home game of the season on March 8. 

Dragons chairman Brian Johnston said Langlands will "forever be remembered for iconic images of rugby league", in a statement on the Dragons' website. 

"He's depicted in so many instances, his magnificent sidestep will forever be ingrained in the rugby league annals," Johnston said. 

with James Lemon 

This story first appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald website.

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