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Craig Fitzgibbon: An All-Time Rooster

Of the numerous leaders and tough-as teak-forwards in the rich and proud history of the Sydney Roosters, few stand alongside Craig Fitzgibbon.

Heading into the 2000 season with the loss of backrower Scott Gourley and sharp-shooting goal-kicker Ivan Cleary, the Club found the perfect man to fulfil both roles in Fitzgibbon - but little did they know he would finish his career as a Club legend. 

Coming off the 1999 Grand Final loss with St. George Illawarra, the then-22-year-old met up with Roosters coach Phil Gould and CEO Bernie Gurr, who convinced the young forward that a Premiership and International representation would be achieved in the Red, White and Blue.

Both occurred within his first three seasons at Bondi.

With the Club advancing to the Grand Final four times over the next five seasons,  'Fitz' was a major figurehead in the side's charge - making an immediate impact in his first season by scoring 174 points en route to the Club's first decider in 20 years. 

Season 2002 was one to celebrate for Fitzgibbon, making his Test debut for Australia and picking up the Clive Churchill Medal as man of the match in the Roosters' Premiership victory against the New Zealand Warriors - tasting Grand Final success after losses in 1999 and 2000. 

Fitzgibbon would start the next season with a bang, scoring a record 22 points in the Tricolours' 38-nil demolition of St. Helens in the 2003 World Club Challenge - a record that still stands today.

His long-awaited State of Origin debut for NSW in 2003 also coincided with the Blues' three series wins in a row, with his strong Club form rewarded with representative caps including 11 Origin games and 18 for the Kangaroos over his career. 

In 2005 the rangy backrower would etch his name in Roosters folklore, becoming the highest point-scorer in Club history, breaking fullback Allan McKean's long-standing record.

One year later, Fitzgibbon would take over the captaincy duties from Luke Ricketson, and in the same season, he would eclipse David Furner's title as the highest point-scoring forward in NRL history in a 40-20 win against the Penrith Panthers - a record which stood for nearly a decade. 

Holding the Club captaincy until his departure to England in 2009, Fitzgibbon has since helped the Club through three Premierships (2013, 2018, 2019), four Minor Premierships (2013, 2014, 2015, 2018), an Auckland Nines title (2017) as well as three World Club Challenges (2014, 2019, 2020) as an assistant coach. 

With his success on the field transitioning to the coaches box, Fitzgibbon has also made his mark in the coaches box as Trent Robinson's right-hand man.

"A guy like Fitzy, the way he played, he was a man's man," Robinson explained.

"Freddy (Roosters legend Brad Fittler) will admit that he got to do what he wanted on the field because Fitzy did the other stuff. He was the ultimate right-hand man. 

"He's also open to all this stuff. He knows it's our role to offer up different thoughts and experiences to these guys. He's been the ultimate guy for me." 

In 2021 Fitzgibbon was awarded the ultimate Club accolade with Life Membership of the Club, becoming one of just thirty currently active members. 

A leader and mentor both on and off the field, Craig Fitzgibbon is truly an all-time Rooster.