Tributes have been paid following the death of well loved Leeds prop Hugh Waddell
TRIBUTES HAVE been paid following the sudden death of former Leeds, Wakefield and Great Britain prop Hugh Waddell.
Waddell, who would have turned 61 on November 13, had been due to attend the Rhinos players’ association annual lunch later this month.
He will be remembered during the traditional pre-match minute’s silence when Rhinos take on Trinity at Emerald Headingley on Boxing Day.
Garry Schofield played alongside Waddell at Leeds and was a team-mate in the 1988 Yorkshire Cup final win over Castleford at Elland Road.
“It’s very sad,” Schofield said. “Hugh was a gentleman off the field and he never took a backwards step on it. It is a great story, he asked for a trial at Blackpool and the rest is history. You don’t become a Great Britain Lion – or play for Manly – if you’re not a quality rugby league player.”
Waddell, who won five Great Britain caps, was on holiday in Blackpool when he walked into the local club and asked for a trial.
He moved on to Oldham and joined Leeds in 1988, making his eighth appearance for the Loiners in that year’s Yorkshire Cup success.
He played 53 times for Leeds and had an off-season stint with Manly in Australia before joining Sheffield Eagles – coached by present Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington – in 1990.
After Eagles he had a five-game spell with Wakefield and also turned out for Rochdale Hornets, Swinton, Carlisle, where he was player-coach, South Wales and Barrow.
He featured for Scotland in the 1995 Emerging Nations World Cup and played into his 40s with Scottish amateur side Border Eagles. His finest hour came in 1988 when he helped Great Britain to a famous Test victory over Australia – their first in a decade – in Sydney.
Tragically, he is the third member of the Lions’ pack that afternoon to die, after Roy Powell, who he played with at Leeds, and Mike Gregory.
Schofield added: “He was a tough and uncompromising front-rower, but he had plenty of skills as well.
“When Malcolm [Reilly, then Leeds’ coach] signed him in ’88 we all raised our eyebrows, but one thing for sure, he didn’t let anybody down.
“Off the field you couldn’t wish to meet anybody nicer or more pleasant. He wasn’t one for any controversy, he was a great guy.”
Hetherington described Waddell as a “lovely bloke”. He said: “He was really proud of his past association with Leeds Rhinos, he attended players’ association functions and was always pleased to come back for occasional games. It’s a sad loss at such a young age.”
Waddell played 83 times for Eagles from 1990-92. Hetherington said: “He was an unusual player.
“He was really determined and single-minded and he had his own style.
“He was a teetotaller for as long as I knew him and he started out as a florist in Burton.
“He was a real character.”