Rugby league great Tim Pickup dies aged 72 after tragic battle with dementia

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Rugby league great Tim Pickup dies aged 72 after tragic battle with dementia

  • Australian rugby legend Tim Pickup has died aged 72
  • The former NRL star played for the Kangaroos and the NSW Waratahs in the 1970s
  • Former Bulldogs captain battled dementia several years before his death
  • He was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2000 for services to Aussie sport

Rugby league is saddened again with the death of former Test five-eighth Tim Pickup, aged 72.

Pickup played 11 Tests for the Kangaroos between 1972 and 1975, and was also a key player in both North Sydney and Canterbury, where he played 99 games.

A Western Suburbs junior, a 17-year-old Pickup first made a name for himself in rugby union and English rugby league before returning to Australia with North Sydney, where he was later named five-eighth in the club’s team of the century.

Australian rugby legend Tim Pickup (pictured) has died aged 72 after years of battling dementia

Australian rugby legend Tim Pickup (pictured) has died aged 72 after years of battling dementia

Pickup played 11 Tests for the Kangaroos between 1972 and 1975, but was also a key player in both North Sydney and Canterbury, playing 99 games

Pickup played 11 Tests for the Kangaroos between 1972 and 1975, but was also a key player in both North Sydney and Canterbury, playing 99 games

Pickup played 11 Tests for the Kangaroos between 1972 and 1975, but was also a key player in both North Sydney and Canterbury, playing 99 games

He played Rugby League for the North Sydney Bears from 1972 before moving to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in 1975.

He then captained the Bulldogs 23 times and played for five seasons, before serving on the board of their football club for 18 years and being named to a lifelong membership of the club.

He retired in 1979 due to a serious knee injury and was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to Australian sport in 2000.

Pickup had suffered from dementia for several years before his death, and his son Martin later speculated that the illness was caused by concussions on the field.

The former NRL star sparked a major search in February 2019 when he was reported missing from his Narrabeen nursing home on Sydney’s northern beaches.

He was later found on his way back to the North Sydney Leagues Club.

A football card of Tim Pickup during his time with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.  Pickup played 47 first-graders for the Bulldogs from 1975-79

A football card of Tim Pickup during his time with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.  Pickup played 47 first-graders for the Bulldogs from 1975-79

A football card of Tim Pickup during his time with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. Pickup played 47 first-graders for the Bulldogs from 1975-79

“Tim Pickup was a mentor and huge influence on the next generation of Bulldogs superstars, such as Steve Folkes and the Mortimer brothers, Steve, Peter and Chris,” Canterbury said in a tribute on Tuesday.

Pickup also served as the inaugural CEO of the Adelaide Rams during the Super League war, and he had a stint in boxing management with Jeff Harding when he won the WBC Light Heavyweight World Title.

Pickup played six games for the pre-Origin-era Blues, and news of his death came on the eve of Wednesday’s State of Origin opener.

It came amid a tough few months for the sport, which recently parted ways with fellow ex-kangaroos Bob Fulton and Tommy Raudonikis, who both played alongside Pickup.

The rugby league star retired in 1979 due to a serious knee injury and was awarded the Order of Australia medal for services to Australian sport in 2000

The rugby league star retired in 1979 due to a serious knee injury and was awarded the Order of Australia medal for services to Australian sport in 2000

The rugby league star retired in 1979 due to a serious knee injury and was awarded the Order of Australia medal for services to Australian sport in 2000

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