Rugby League Legend Reg Gasnier Passes Away

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By Rachelle Corpuz | May 12, 2014 1:14 PM EST

Rugby Legend Reg Gasnier has died in a Miranda nursing home a day before his 75th birthday.

According to NRL.com, Gasnier has been ill for quite some time. The former St. George Dragons center had been staying at a nursing home situated in southern Sydney. He was supposed to celebrate his 75th birthday on May 12.

The Web site reported the veteran athelete was regarded as "one of the greatest players," after competing in 39 tests for Australia and 127 matches for the Dragons.

The popular social networking site Twitter was plagued with overwhelming sympathy and condolences after Gasnier's death was announced.

"We sadly bid farewell to a rugby league immortal #RIP Reg Gasnier & sincere condolences to family & friends," Rugby League Players Association wrote.

"RIP REG GASNIER. One of the all-time greats. Also one of my boyhood idols. Sincere condolences to family, friends and the Big Red V club," Phil Gould of Penrith Panthers tweeted.

"RIP REG Gasnier your family and the league world lost a true legend... Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends on this sad day," wrote AnthonyWatmough.

"Very sad to hear the great Reg Gasnier has passed away today #legend," Buzz Rothfield tweeted.

Gasnier's former Dragons teammate Johnny Raper was "deeply saddened" by the news. He told News Corporation that he even got to see Gasnier a week before. "It's a very, very sad day," Raper said. "I went and saw him last Tuesday," Raper added.  

Raper added he somehow knew that Gasnier wasn't at the best state of health, but he believed that he would recover for the better. "He didn't look the best, but he was a fighter like he was on the football field and I thought he'd get better."

"Away from football, he was a great man."

"A wonderful citizen."

"We'll miss him dearly."

Gasnier was nicknamed as "Puff the Magic Dragon," when he was still playing for the Dragons, Sean Fagan of RL1908.com wrote. He had the "speed, flair, and dash" that no other rugby player during his time could match.

The cause of Gasnier's death was not revealed. But it was certain his health condition wasn't the best before his death.

The Daily Telegraph reported Gasnier had been ill after suffering from stroke. In a report by the Sydney Morning Herald, it said Gasnier had underwent surgery operations to remove tumors from his brain and neck in 2010.

Gasnier is survived by his wife Maureen and two children, Peter and Kellie.

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