Willie Horne and Malcolm Reilly, two of rugby league’s all-time greats, were last night inducted into the sport’s most exclusive club, the Rugby League Hall of Fame.
Reilly’s playing career spanned three decades, during which he cemented his reputation as one of the game’s genuine hard men.
He had two spells with his home-town club Castleford and enjoyed a memorable stint in Australia with Manly before embarking on a successful coaching career with Castleford, Halifax and Great Britain, as well as Australian club Newcastle.
Hailed as Barrow’s favourite son, Horne captained Barrow, Lancashire, England and Great Britain between 1943-1959.
They take the total number of Hall of Fame members to 23 following last year’s induction of former Leeds pair Lewis Jones and Garry Schofield, along with Martin Offiah and Mick Sullivan.
Reilly, who presented another of the clubs he coached, Leeds Rhinos, with the Challenge Cup at Wembley in August, had a glittering career. He remains the only Englishman to win Challenge Cup finals and Australian grand finals in both capacities.
As a dynamic loose-forward with all the skills and a ruthless streak, he was the lynchpin of the last Great Britain team to win an Ashes series, terrorising the Australian and New Zealand forwards on the near-flawless 1970 tour of the Southern Hemisphere, which led to a lucrative move to Manly where he propelled the Sea Eagles to the first two premiership triumphs in their history.
Reilly had famously eschewed soccer for rugby league, signing for Castleford in 1967, winning a debut season first honour as they completed a hat-trick of Floodlit Trophy triumphs.
In 1968-69, with Reilly part of a dream midfield axis alongside Alan Hardisty and Keith Hepworth, Castleford came within an ace the ‘double’. He took the Lance Todd Trophy for his majestic Wembley display in the defeat of Salford and the club went closer than ever to winning the Championship, going down a late converted try in the decider against Leeds. In 1970, the Challenge Cup was retained against Wigan.
On his return to Castleford in the mid-1970s, player-coach, Reilly put together a team that lived up to the club’s ‘classy’ image and they won sponsored tournaments in the Yorkshire Cup, for the first time in their history, the Floodlit Trophy and their first John Player Trophy success. After retiring as a player, Reilly steered Cas to another against-the-odds Cup triumph over the Hull KR side coached by his great friend, Roger Millward, in 1986.
He also enjoyed great success with Great Britain before returning to Australia in 1994 and steering Newcastle to a maiden title.
Rugby Football League chief executive Nigel Wood said: “It is right and proper that these two outstanding players join the existing 21 greats within the Rugby League Hall of Fame.
“As we approach an exciting new era with a new league structure for 2015, it is also important to celebrate our heritage and to recognise the players who have enriched our game through the years.”
Rugby League Cares Chairman Terry Flanagan said: “The Hall of Fame dinner is always a fantastic occasion and we are grateful to Rugby League Cares for their continued support of this important initiative.”