As the NRL Grand Final approaches, the rugby league community is grappling with the somber news of John ‘Chow’ Hayes’ passing, just days before the much-anticipated event. Hayes, whose name became synonymous with dedication and excellence in the sport, left an indelible mark during his illustrious career.
John ‘Chow’ Hayes rose to prominence as a formidable presence on the rugby league field, donning the jersey for Western Suburbs in the NSWRL competition. His journey into professional rugby league commenced in 1961, marking the debut of a true legend.
A Versatile and Tough Forward
Hayes was not just an ordinary player; he was a tough and versatile forward who could seamlessly transition between prop, hooker, or second-row positions. His adaptability and tenacity made him a valuable asset to any team he graced.
Representing the State
In 1961, Hayes also earned the honor of representing New South Wales, solidifying his status as a formidable talent in the sport. His performances on the field were nothing short of exceptional, drawing admiration and respect from fans and peers alike.
A Lifetime Contributor to the Game
Reflecting on Hayes’ legacy, NSWRL President Bob Millward expressed the sentiment shared by many: “John was highly respected and regarded and was a lifetime contributor to the game he loved at all levels.” Hayes’ commitment to rugby league transcended his playing days, and his enduring impact on the sport is a testament to his unwavering dedication.
A Remarkable Journey
Born in Marrickville, a suburb in Sydney’s inner-west, Hayes embarked on a remarkable journey. At the tender age of 14, he made the pivotal decision to leave school to pursue rugby league, alongside a career in panel beating. This early determination and dedication laid the foundation for his future success.
A Legacy of Coaching
Hayes’ contribution to rugby league extended beyond the playing field. After retiring from his 160-game stint with the Magpies in 1970, he turned his attention to coaching. He took the reins of the Magpies reserve grade side from 1971 to 1973, leading them to the semi-finals in his very first year. Subsequently, he assumed the role of head coach for the North Sydney Bears in 1983 and 1984.
Life Membership Honors
Such was John ‘Chow’ Hayes’ stature in the rugby league world that he earned the distinction of being inducted as a life member of NSWRL, Western Suburbs, and North Sydney. These accolades underscore the profound impact he had on the sport and the respect he garnered from his peers.
Beyond Rugby League
Hayes’ influence stretched even further as he later became a Chief Inspector for the NSW Police Force, demonstrating his commitment to serving the community both on and off the field.
As the rugby league community remembers John ‘Chow’ Hayes, they not only mourn the loss of a legendary figure but also celebrate a storied career that enriched the sport and left an enduring legacy. His contributions will continue to inspire generations of rugby league enthusiasts, ensuring that his name lives on in the annals of the game’s history.