Tributes have flowed for former Dubbo Macquarie Raiders and Dubbo CYMS player Steve 'Bear' Hall, who passed away on Saturday.
A well respected identity across the rugby league family, Hall was born in Walgett and enjoyed a fruitful playing career in Country Rugby League, also representing the Walgett Dragons, Coonamble Bears and Mendooran Tigers.
With a working career in the game spanning 26 years in coaching, development and mentoring roles with Western Suburbs, Wests Tigers and New South Wales Rugby League, he has been most fondly remembered for his tireless work mentoring and developing countless young Indigenous players from regional NSW.
"It's an extremely sad day for everyone in the rugby league community," CRL chief executive Terry Quinn said.
"Bear was extremely well respected in all circles and was extremely passionate about the game, particularly about what it could do for the lives of young indigenous players.
"Bear's skills on the football field are well remembered by the people in the Western Region, but his contributions extended far beyond the playing field and will never be forgotten."
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Those attending the annual NSW Kooris vs Queensland Murris Under-16s Indigenous clash at Mudgee on Saturday paid their respects to Bear during a minute's silence, with the Koori team wearing black armbands.
The Western Rams Andrew Johns and Laurie Daley Cup squads were also set to wear black armbands on Sunday in their matches against Illawarra South Coast.
Bear was instrumental in the commencement of the under-16 Indigenous program in 2003 and was the original NSW team manager.
CRL is deeply saddened at the passing today (Saturday 2 March) of Steve “Bear” Hall and sends its sincere condolences to his family and friends.— Country Rugby League (@CountryRL) March 2, 2019
Bear was a well respected identity across the rugby league family who will always be remembered.
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He was also appointed as the original coaching and development officer in Dubbo, with NSWRL in 1992. After moving to Sydney, he undertook coaching and development roles through the NSWRL Academy, including that of the Indigenous rugby league development officer.
More recently, Hall returned to Dubbo late last year to assist in the running of the 2018 NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout.
The legendary Steve “Bear” Hall has passed away. My thoughts go out to Steve’s family and friends. From captain-coach of Dubbo CYMS to his roles with the @WestsTigers and the @NSWRL, “Bear” has had an indelible impact on the game. RIP. @telegraph_sport, @CountryRL, @NRL.— Matt Logue (@mattlogue7) March 2, 2019
“Bear was a tireless worker with an enormous passion and drive to help develop young Indigenous players and the game in general across the state," NSWRL chief executive David Trodden said.
“It is a very sad day for rugby league and we will remember him fondly. Our deepest sympathies go to his wife Marg and his family and friends.”