WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that the following article contains images of deceased persons.
Wally Lewis has revealed inside details that show Carl Webb was a true Queenslander right to the end.
The NRL enforcer died on Thursday at the age of 42.
NRL figures close to Webb have made touching public tributes after his death that followed his long battle with Motor Neurone Disease.
Webb first revealed he’d been diagnosed with early onset MND in 2020 — in news that rocked rugby league.
The father-of-four had felt his condition deteriorate over the three years that he’d had the disease, which impacts nerve cells that control muscles, limiting the ability to move and speak.
He played 187 games throughout his NRL career with three clubs and played in 15 State of Origin matches.
He became a cult hero in Queensland for making an impact in short cameos on the field during Queensland’s era of State of Origin dominance.
Lewis on Friday night revealed Webb’s final cheeky comment was directed at his Origin opponents.
The rugby league immortal told Channel 9: “It’s an extremely sad day for the Webb family and rugby league as well.
“I had the opportunity to go in and visit Carl a couple of times. The thing was, exactly what we expected from him, he said ‘I’m not going to give in, I’m just going to fight it all the way’.
“And he said, ‘If I pass away too soon, I’m going to see even less matches where Queensland beat New South Wales’.”
Brisbane Broncos coach Kevin Walters, Webb’s former teammate Ben Ikin and Australian Rugby League Commission supremo Peter V’landys also paid tribute to Webb on Friday.
“Every time he walked into out place, you felt the respect and admiration from so many,” Walters said.
Ikin said in a statement from the QRL: “I found it truly remarkable that a guy who made a living out of being so powerful and explosive could handle, with such grace, the debilitating effects of MND”.
V’landys sent his condolences to Webb’s family.
“Anyone who has come across Carl’s battle will have been touched by his bravery,” the ARLC chairman said.
“He was a fearsome player and competitor and one of the toughest forwards to play in his era. He had a physical presence and aggression which was unmatched.
“He showed every bit of that toughness following his diagnosis with Motor Neurone Disease.
“Carl was a key part of some exceptional teams at Brisbane Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys and as a result was able to represent Queensland on 12 occasions, while also being selected for Australia in the Centenary Test in 2008.
“Carl also represented the Indigenous All Stars – forever being part of history by playing in the first match in 2010.
“On behalf of the Commission, I extend my condolences to Carl’s family, friends, and all those who played with and knew him.”
Webb was in May recording his voice to prepare for a time when he was no longer able to speak.
His comments at the time are heartbreaking to read seven months later.
“Raising a glass or bottle to my mouth to drink, those little arbitrary tasks throughout the day are quite challenging now,” he told A Current Affair.
Known for his incredible strength during his playing career, Webb said he felt “kind of trapped in a body that’s not working so well”.
He said he kept a level of strength to get out of bed each day, but it was his partner of five years Cassandra Jamieson who helped him each day.
“It is the hardest thing to ever expect anyone to do, but there is a level of strength there that is just incredible and she turns up every day,” Webb said.
His playing career spanned 11-years and saw him play for the Brisbane Broncos, Parramatta Eels and North Queensland Cowboys.
Webb also had a brief boxing career and featured on the same fight night card as Anthony Mundine in 2010
He made his debut in 2000 and was selected to play for Australia in 2008.
The Carl Webb Foundation was established to help those suffering from MND.
The average life expectancy for those diagnosed with MND is 2-3 years.
Source website: www.foxsports.com.au