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Monday, 31 October 2011
Page: 12152

Mr HAYES (Fowler) (10:46): I would like to draw the attention of the chamber to the death of Keith Holman MBE. Keith passed away on 11 October at the age of 86 after a long battle with illness. Keith was one of nature's true gentlemen and an absolute champion.

Keith—or 'Yappy', as he was often affectionately referred to due to his somewhat chatty nature—was an honorary life patron of the Western Suburbs District Junior Rugby League. It is in that capacity that I got to know him and his story very well. Despite his small frame by rugby league standards, Keith was one of the league's titans. He was, in fact, the only man in history to have played rugby league and refereed at international levels as well as coached a Sydney first-grade team.

In 1948 Keith Holman joined the Western Suburbs Magpies and began a wonderful career that saw him play over 200 first-grade matches for the club as well as 33 games for New South Wales and 32 test matches on behalf of Australia. Keith Holman was an all-time great half-back. He played his last game in 1961—the grand final between Western Suburbs and St George—probably at the age of 36. I say probably because Keith was an orphan and his age was never certain.

After his playing career ended Keith served as a referee. He had the honour of controlling one of the most famous grand finals, the 1971 match between South Sydney and St George, which obviously stays in our living memory because Souths won 16-10.

In 1977 Keith was made a member of the Order of the British Empire for his services to rugby league. I understand Keith was the only rugby league player to have a junior club named after him, the Holman Club in Enfield. In 2003 he was inducted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame and in 2007 he was named one of Australia's all-time greats in the game's finest 100 players.

I would like to convey my deep sympathies and condolences to his wife, Hazel, and their family. Keith's commitment and friendship to our rugby league community will forever be appreciated and remembered. Not only was he an icon of rugby league, Keith was also a role model to both young and old alike. Keith Holman—rest in peace.