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The Best We've Ever Seen: Barry Reilly

Pound for pound one of the toughest players to ever don the famous Red, White and Blue, Barry 'Bunny' Reilly was a will-of-the-wisp with ball in hand and an axe in defence for the successful Roosters sides of the 1970s. 

A Paddington Colts junior, Reilly was born and bred in the Eastern Suburbs, quickly rising through the grades to make his first-grade debut with the Club in 1966. In a year where the Tricolours infamously went through the season without recording a single victory, his introduction alongside John 'Bomber' Peard represented a changing of the guard, with the pair playing a vital part in the future success of the Club through the following decade.

Name: Barry Reilly
Nickname: The Axe, Bunny
DOB: 24/03/1948
Seasons at Club: 1966-1971, 1973-1979
Roosters Player No. 570
First-Grade Games for Club: 195
First-Grade Points for Club: 54 from 18 tries
Premierships: 2 (1974, 1975)
Individual Accolades: Sydney Roosters Head Coach (1990)
Sydney Roosters Team of the Century (2000)
Sydney Roosters Centurion (2007)

Continuing to leave his mark over the course of the next five seasons, highlighted by his tenacity and defensive prowess, Reilly's lasting legacy at Easts may never have eventuated following the signing of representative lock forward Ron Coote, as the pint-sized dynamo joined Cronulla in search of a starting position. 

Destined to return home to Bondi as the newly introduced thirteen import rule - which allowed clubs only thirteen players outside of their designated areas - saw him back in the Red, White and Blue, with the fan favourite's career flourishing under Jack Gibson.

Equally adept at lock or in the second row, Reilly was a prominent figure in the Club's drought-breaking Premiership in 1974, and despite injury relegating him to the bench in the 1975 decider, Gibson, one of his greatest admirers, ensured he took the field in the emphatic 38-nil victory. 

He was as tough as they come and especially so for his size.

Bob Seabrook Former Club Secretary

The two-time Premiership winner became a household name and was a feared and well-respected figure on the field, possessing a punishing tackling technique that saw him fell opponents - hence his nickname 'The Axe' - despite being a smaller forward.

'Bunny' also featured in the inaugural World Club Challenge against St Helens in 1976, with the workhorse playing an integral part in the 25-2 victory which saw the Tricolours claim their third major trophy in as many years. 

In 1979 the pint-sized lock called it a day, retiring after 195 first-grade appearances for the Club, finishing as the most-capped Rooster alongside Mark Harris with the pair holding the record for over a decade.  

A loyal Clubman, Reilly kept the Roosters close to his heart, coaching in the lower grades before taking up an interim Head Coaching role in mid-1990, guiding the side out of a form slump with a 26-14 victory over Wests in what a brief reversal of fortunes.

He'd play great if you needed him. If it was 10-all Bunny would win the ball game for you. He liked some pressure.

Jack Gibson Former Head Coach

In 2000, Reilly was inducted into the Club's Team of the Century and was later named in 'The Centurions', a team of the greatest players to have played over 100 games for the Roosters in celebration of the Centenary Season in 2007.

A quintessential Eastern Suburbs man, Barry 'The Axe' Reilly is truly one of the best we've ever seen. 

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.