Rabbits or Roosters: who will Ron Coote be cheering for?

A NRL grand final berth is on the line tonight when foundational clubs South Sydney and Sydney Roosters meet at ANZ Stadium in the preliminary final.

Spare a thought for Team of the Century member Ron Coote, who played in premiership winning sides with both clubs.

So, who is he barracking for?

“It is hard having had a long association with both clubs,” he said.

“I’d like to see the Roosters do well again. I had a lot of years at the club and was on the board there for a long while, but Souths haven’t won the competition for 43 years and I’d love to see them win a premiership again.

“It’s certainly been a long time, 43 years, and I played that day, we beat St George at the SCG.

“It was 1-nil at half-time, an unbelievable score.”

The Rabbitohs went on to win 16-10.

He admitted if the Rabbits could win tonight and then again next week in the grand final he would “probably shed a tear”.

“I think I would be very emotional, after 43 years it is such a long time,” he said.

“It is a big ask but it can happen. I’d certainly like to see Souths win but if they can’t I’d be just as happy to see the Roosters win it.”

The clubs honour him each year, playing for the Ron Coote Cup.

“It does tug at the heartstrings a bit when they play each other,” he said.

“If I go to the game people see me and say ‘Who are you going for tonight?’

“I usually ask who they go for and if they say Souths or the Roosters, I say I do too.

“Often I sit in the fence.”

Coote played 151 games for South Sydney from 1964–71 and 108 games for Eastern Suburbs from 1972–1978.

His grand final record is phenomenal, playing in nine grand finals in 11 seasons from 1965 to 1975, winning four premierships at Souths and consecutive premierships at Easts in ’74-75.

He represented Australia in 23 Tests and World Cup games between 1967 and 1975 and was captain for three games in the 1970 World Cup.

An arm injury forced him into retirement in 1978.

Coming through a tough era, he played with many great players at both clubs – the likes of Sattler, McCarthy, O’Neill, Piggins, Simms at Souths, then Beetson, Peard, Brass, Harris, Fairfax, at Easts.

“There were some tough men but the toughest I ever saw was John Sattler,” he said.

“He dished some out but he took a hell of a lot as well.

“I don’t think they make them that tough any more.

“It was a tough game in those days, it still is, but it’s different

“They have taken the high tackles out of it which in our days you often had to run like a bobbing emu, ducking your head to miss the swinging arms coming at you.”

He says he would like to play in the modern game.

“I’d love to play today. I used to love to train to be able to do it all the time as a professional would be great,” he said.

“We used to work all day and then go to training.”

And he believes the great players of his era would mix it with the current players.

“Champion players would be champions in any era,” he said.

“Really good players stand up.”

He is also tipping a Sydney Swans victory in Saturday’s AFL grand final.

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