‘Thought he’d live forever. He was a machine’: Folkes tributes
TRIBUTES have come thick and fast since the news of Steve Folkes' sudden passing on Tuesday.
The Canterbury Bulldogs legend will live forever in the history books for his 269 games and four premierships as a player, and his 2004 premiership as coach of his beloved club.
But those who knew, and played alongside and under him will remember Folkes for much more.
Braith Anasta was the Bulldogs five-eighth when Folkes led the side to glory 14 years ago.
He was understandably in shock when speaking of the man he credits largely for the famous Bulldogs culture.
"I am shattered. I got along really well with Folkesy," Anasta said.
"He was a man of few words but when he spoke you listened. He was one guy you just respected because he put in the hard work. He had been there, done that as a player and he was just tough, uncompromising.
"He trained hard, he trained as hard as any player even when he wasn't playing and when he was coaching.
"That's why everyone is in shock, because of how fit he was. You thought he would live forever, the guy was just a machine."
Folkes took charge of the Canterbury side in 1998 and coached the club for a decade.
The Bulldogs were famously brought to their knees in 2002 when they were found to have breached the NRL salary cap, and were stripped of all competition points that year.
They somehow bounced back to win the competition two years later, and Anasta said it wouldn't have happened if not for Folkes.
"No one thought we would win a premiership after the shit we had been through for a few years," Anasta said.
"The character of Folkesy really got us through a really tough time, and I don't think we could have won a premiership without him, no doubt about that.
"I think Folkesy epitomised the Bulldogs culture. He is a Bulldog. When you think of Folkesy you think Bulldogs and when you think Bulldogs you think Folkesy.
"When we won the premiership I'd say 80 or 90 per cent of it was built on culture and built on work ethic and teamsmanship."
Folkes' passing at the age of 59 has stunned the rugby league community.
The champion player and coach was famously a fitness fanatic, and often schooled his own players in training drills long after his own retirement.
Broncos legend Gorden Tallis remembers playing against the Folkes-coached Bulldogs.
""He's was one of those guys who looked super fit, he looked after himself," Tallis said.
"He was just one of those real nice guys who was always around the game. It's just sad to hear.
"He was a tough player. If you met Steve Folkes, he wasn't one of the biggest guys. He was a bit like our own Trevor Gillmeister in a way.
"When he played, they used to call (the Bulldogs) the 'dogs of war' and I remember going and playing at Belmore.
"I never got to play against him, but his team was always tough.
"The legacy the Bulldogs have is because of players like himself and Dean Pay, their new coach.
"It's very sad."