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Page last updated at 10:07 GMT, Monday, 27 September 2010 11:07 UK

Tributes paid to former GB star Terry Newton


Deacon pays tribute to Terry Newton

The world of rugby league has been paying tribute to former Great Britain player Terry Newton who was found hanged at his home in Orrell on Sunday.

It is understood the 31-year-old former Leeds, Wigan, Bradford and Wakefield hooker, who was serving a two-year doping ban, took his own life.

Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan said: "Terry will be remembered as a great player... he was a larger than life character."

Bradford chairman Peter Hood added: "He was the ultimate professional."

Rugby Football League (RFL) chairman Richard Lewis joined the tributes by saying in a statement: "We are deeply shocked and saddened by the news of Terry's untimely death.

"This is a personal tragedy and our thoughts are with Terry's partner, his children and his family at this terrible time."

Terry was a very talented player but was clearly a troubled man

Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington

Wigan-born Newton's professional rugby league career began when he joined Leeds from amateur outfit Wigan St Judes in 1996, and he went on to play in the 1998 Grand Final as Leeds lost to Wigan.

In the same year, he won the first of 15 Great Britain caps in a Test series against New Zealand, and made his England debut against France in 1999.

Former team-mate Iestyn Harris, who played alongside Newton at Leeds and Bradford, suggested the ban had made life "difficult" for him.

"Rugby league was probably a comfort blanket for Terry for a number of years and a lot of frustration he felt he probably took out with him onto the field," said the former Great Britain stand-off.

"I spoke to him not that long ago and he seemed quite upbeat and was looking forward to the next chapter in his life. It's come as a massive shock to me. I don't think it's sunk in yet."

Terry Newton playing for Great Britain
Newton said he would "regret" his positive drugs test

Another former Leeds team-mate, Featherstone coach Daryl Powell, said he was "absolutely devastated" to hear of his former colleague's death.

"It's a real shame and I'm gutted," added Powell after seeing his team lose to Halifax in the Championship Grand Final. "That means more than a game of rugby league."

In 2000, Newton moved to Wigan where he went on to score 62 tries, feature in three Grand Finals and earn a pick in the 2003 Super League Dream Team.

"Rugby league is a worse place for not having him around," said Wigan prop Stuart Fielden, who played alongside Newton for both Bradford and Great Britain.

"Whatever happened regarding his ban, he was still a good bloke and a special character. I'm gutted and our thoughts are with his family."

Another former Bradford team-mate, Paul Deacon, added: "We travelled together day in, day out for four years. He used to pick me up at my house every day and drive me to training.

"You do get to know someone very closely when you spend three hours chatting every day with them. From my point of view, I've lost a great friend.

"Terry is one of those blokes who lit up the game of rugby league. He was a character and there aren't many of those left in the game nowadays with things going so professional."

Newton's problems were compounded by his younger sister Leanne dying of pneumonia following heroin addiction, but the RFL denied it had abandoned the player.

"Every registered rugby league player has access to counselling services if they want them," said spokesman John Ledger.

sign some players aka GMO

"Terry will have been reminded of that counselling service. The RFL were also in dialogue with Terry about his offer to get involved with speaking to youngsters about the dangers of drugs.

"Nothing had been resolved but it was an open dialogue and we were still speaking to him about it."

Newton joined Bradford in 2006, staying for three years before moving to Wakefield Wildcats, where he became the first professional sportsman to test positive for banned growth hormone HGH in November, 2009.

Following his two-year suspension by the UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD), Newton said: "I've made one of the biggest mistakes of my life and I know it is something I will regret for the rest of my life."

But he said wanted to use the experience to help educate other players about the pitfalls of taking banned substances and to help clean up the sport. Newton was also hopeful of resuming his playing career.

UKAD chief executive Andy Parkinson said: "Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of Terry Newton at this difficult time.

"While the circumstances of our relationship with Mr Newton were hardly ideal, we had respect for his openness and willingness to share his story to help his sport.

"In recent months Mr Newton had been assisting UK Anti-Doping in its enquiries into the use and supply of performance-enhancing drugs; specific details about which are strictly confidential."

Wakefield and Leeds added their own tributes and messages of condolence. Within hours of the sad news a tribute page was set up on Facebook with over 15,000 names showing their support.

Terry Newton

Newton scores for Bradford in 2007

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see also
Rugby league star is found dead
27 Sep 10 |  England
Newton keen to return to playing
18 Jun 10 |  Rugby League
Wakefield cancel Newton contract
22 Feb 10 |  Wakefield
Wildcats' Newton fails drugs test
17 Feb 10 |  Wakefield
Morley urges RFL to recruit Newton
04 Mar 10 |  Rugby League

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