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Tony Butterfield: Brutal, Hard, Tough

Rewind to 1987.

The powers that be had handed a Winfield Cup franchise to the people of Newcastle. Officials of the league's youngest Club immediately set about filling the team with tough, reliable and resilient players.

Enter Tony Butterfield.

A Penrith-born prop, Butterfield was identified as the perfect fit for Allan McMahon's side despite having played just nine games in four seasons with the Panthers.

Put it down to attitude and desire.

1988 was Butterfield's first full season, with his five games in 1986 being the most he'd played in a single season up to that point.

His recruitment turned out to be a masterstroke.

Butterfield quickly became one of the most adored and recognised names in the team. 

Not a week went by without Butterfield giving it absolutely everything. He led from the front and was a major figure in building the famous Newcastle culture of the 1990s.

His dedication to the side was rewarded, with the Club sticking by him when injury restricted Butterfield to just five games in two seasons in '91-'92.

The faith the Club showed in him was repaid, and then some.

Butterfield went about his work building a lasting and positive culture among one of the toughest forward packs of his era.

Success soon followed.

His crowning glory came in 1997, when he and Paul Harragon set the tone for the Club's maiden premiership.

Butterfield, after 14 seasons, was only getting better.

He managed 20 plus games in every season after 1995, and earned his Origin debut in 1998.

This debut came nine years after his only other representative appearance, a cap for NSW City in 1989.

He called time on his career in 2000, falling one game short of a fairytale second Grand Final appearance.

But he wasn't done yet.

Butterfield was highly active as a representative of players during his playing days, and this only increased after his retirement.

Butterfield was instrumental in the formation of the Rugby League Player's Association (RLPA), which remains as a crucial voice for players throughout the game.

He also instituted the RLPA Awards, which are based on peer reviews and one of the most prestigious awards a player can receive.

A lasting legacy for a legendary player.