NRL legend Steve Folkes dies, aged 59

Steve Folkes has been remembered as one of the all-time greats of Canterbury after the former NRL premiership-winning player and coach died on Tuesday.

Folkes, 59, died from a reported heart attack.

He was hailed as typifying the sprit of the "family club" which he dedicated much of his life to.

Folkes played in four Canterbury premiership-winning sides during the 1980s as well as another two grand finals.

The hard-working back-rower also made nine State of Origin appearances for NSW and played five Tests for Australia.

Assistant coach Steve Folkes and coach Steve Price at a Dragons training session at the University of Wollongong in 2011.

Assistant coach Steve Folkes and coach Steve Price at a Dragons training session at the University of Wollongong in 2011.

Most recently, he was assistant coach at the Dragons for two seasons, coached the Australian women's side between 2014 and 2016, and was set to coach the Moss Vale Dragons in Group Six country rugby league this year.

Moss Vale Dragons committee member Daniel Bennett said the club was “absolutely devastated” by the news.

“We’re obviously absolutely devastated. We’re trying to get our heads around it,” Bennett said.

“Steve was one of those guys you gravitated towards. He was down to earth, he had time for everyone and he was a great fit for our club.”

Steve Folkes was welcomed to the Moss Vale Dragons late last year.

Steve Folkes was welcomed to the Moss Vale Dragons late last year.

Folkes will be best remembered for coaching Canterbury to their 2004 premiership triumph - the club's last title win.

Along with mentor Chris Anderson, he is one of only two people to be involved in Bulldogs premiership victories as a player and coach.

After taking over the side from Anderson in 1998, he took the team to the grand final that year.

In 2002 the club was rocked by a salary cap crisis and stripped of 37 premiership points however Folkes managed to steer the side to a grand final triumph just two years later.

Former teammate Terry Lamb led the chorus of praise for Folkes who he described as a consummate trainer and respected by all at Belmore.

"He was a fitness fanatic, people loved him, I don't think there's too many people who spoke badly about Steve Folkes," Lamb said.

"Tough on the field, he epitomised what the club was.

"In 2004, we weren't supposed to win it. In 1998 he took the team to the grand final and got beaten by the Broncos and they probably should have won the game - but it wasn't to be.

"He instilled in the players respect. If you walked in and didn't say hello, he'd be filthy on that."

Folkes' wife Karen, the daughter of Bulldogs patriarch Peter 'Bullfrog' Moore, died almost five years ago to the day.

Bulldogs officials, his former teammates and players came together on Tuesday to pay tribute.

"Steve played such a major part in the history of the Bulldogs, both as a player and coach, and was without doubt one of the giants of the club," Bulldgos chief executive Andrew Hill said.

During his 11 seasons at the helm he coached players like Johnathan Thurston, Steve Price, Hazem El Masri, Andrew Ryan, Willie Mason and Sonny Bill Williams.

"Rest easy folksey. Thoughts are with the family. 2004 what a season," Williams posted on Twitter.

"I've known Steve for a long time. He was a good friend, and a very well respected and cherished part of the Bulldogs club," NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said.

Australian Associated Press

This story ‘Rest easy folksey’: tributes flow for league legend Steve Folkes first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.