Wed, Nov 21, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Former rugby league great

AFP , LONDON

Former Great Britain rugby league captain Mike Gregory died aged 43 on Monday after a long illness.

Gregory, who played nearly all of his career with Warrington, had been suffering from a neurological disease for the past four years which eventually saw him confined to a wheelchair.

He lost consciousness on Sunday and died on Monday.

The Gregory family believed his illness dated back to an insect bite he suffered while on a tour of Australia with the Great Britain academy team in 2003. It is thought the bite caused Gregory to develop progressive muscular atrophy, a form of motor neurone disease.

Gregory was capped 20 times by Great Britain with arguably his most memorable appearance coming during the third Test in Sydney in 1988 when his long-range try clinched the first British victory over Australia in a decade.

He also captained Great Britain to two Test series victories over New Zealand.

By the time the Super League era began, Gregory was assistant to coach Shaun McRae at St. Helens, who lifted the inaugural Super League title and twice won the Challenge Cup at Wembley during his time on the staff.

He then coached Swinton before joining the backroom staff at his hometown club of Wigan, becoming first-team coach in July 2004 and, after guiding the Warriors to a an 11-match unbeaten run culminating in a Grand Final appearance, he was given the job full-time on a two-year contract.

Gregory took Wigan to the Challenge Cup final the following May but that was to prove his last match.

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