Rugby league mourns death of a legend

Former NRL coach Peter Mulholland. Picture: Chris Pavlich

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart believes rugby league is a “lesser” game without Peter Mulholland after the famed recruitment guru lost a three-year battle with cancer.

The news Mulholland had died on Thursday sent the rugby league world into mourning. The 68-year-old was the Raiders recruitment and high-performance director.

“It’s a sad day, especially for his family. Pete is a very unique person and rugby league is a great loss,” Stuart said.

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“He’s touched so many lives of people through his coaching days, playing days and obviously in his recruiting. He’s one-of-a-kind and the game is lesser without him in it.”

Mulholland, whose career in rugby league spanned for over 50 years, joined the Raiders in 2015. He played a crucial role in not only building pathway programs but transformed the club’s inability to lure marquee players to the nation’s capital.

During his time, the club signed Aidan Sezer, Joseph Tapine, Liam Knight and Siliva Havili.

Mulholland also played a part in Canberra’s English recruitment strategy, which saw the club land Josh Hodgson, John Bateman and Elliott Whitehead – who all played a crucial role in helping the Raiders’ to the club’s first grand final appearance in 25 years in 2019.

“He’s played a significant role in the growth of the club in the time that he has been here,” Stuart said. “His identification of talent and the care he has for the younger players he recruits is second to none. He has great ability to identify talent and the club is now greater for it.”

Raiders CEO Don Furner echoed Stuart’s sentiments.

Peter Mulholland was one of the NRL’s best recruitment managers. Picture: Chris Pavlich
Peter Mulholland was one of the NRL’s best recruitment managers. Picture: Chris Pavlich

“He was instrumental in turning around our clubs’ fortunes and helping us make the Grand Final with some of his astute and targeted recruitment,” Furner said.

“His time at the Raiders only makes up a very small portion of his rugby league career, but we will be forever indebted to what he brought to our club and what he was able to help us achieve during this time.”

Following his time as a player, Mulholland coached famous rugby league school, St Gregory’s Campbelltown for 14 years from 1979-1993.

He then was appointed as the Western Reds’ head coach when the now defunct franchise entered the competition in 1995.

Peter Mulholland (left) was the inaugural coach of the Western Reds.
Peter Mulholland (left) was the inaugural coach of the Western Reds.

After a year coaching English Super League expansion team, Paris Saint-Germain in France, Mulholland returned to Australia in 1998.

Mulholland moved to the foot of the mountains in 1999 to work alongside Penrith coach Royce Simmons and was part of the club’s premiership winning 2003 campaign.

His passion for nurturing rising rugby league saw him work with a number of other NRL clubs including Canterbury and Newcastle.


Fatima Kdouh is a rugby league reporter and SuperCoach presenter. She joined News Corp after walking away from a career in investment banking to pursue her dream job of becoming a sports journalist. Since joini… Read more

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