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John Thornett, Hall of Fame Wallabies forward, dies at 83

SYDNEY (AP) John Thornett, one of the most versatile forwards ever to play for Australia and a member of the World Rugby Hall of Fame, has died. He was 83.

Rugby Australia issued a statement saying Thornett died Friday following a long illness.

He started 37 tests, including 16 as captain, among his 118 matches for the Wallabies in a 13-year international career after making his debut against the New Zealand All Blacks in 1955.

Thornett was renowned for his leadership and versatility, having made his test debut as a flanker before playing in the second row and finishing his career in the front row for Australia.

He was the oldest of three brothers who represented Australia. Dick Thornett played rugby union, rugby league and water polo - at the 1960 Olympics - for Australia. Ken Thornett played rugby league for Australia.

In a statement, Rugby Australia said John Thornett was "renowned for his supreme leadership qualities and sportsmanship, became the second Australian to play 100 matches for the Wallabies, and his influence on the sport was compared with that of Don Bradman's to cricket."

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Updated January 4, 2019