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Vale: Former leading referee Jack Danzey

Former first grade player and leading referee Jack Danzey has died at the age of 81.

Predominantly a five-eighth during his playing days, Danzey debuted for Newtown in 1960 and went on to play 82 first grade games for the Jets, Tigers and Cronulla Sharks, including Balmain's 1964 grand final loss to the Dragons.

He was better remembered as a top referee, officiating in 170 first grade games from 1973 to 1983 including semi-finals, interstate games and the 1978 Amco Cup Final.

All NRL match officials will wear black armbands this weekend in a tribute to Danzey.

NRL Head of Football - Elite Competitions Graham Annesley paid tribute to Danzey, who he said was a man of great character and decency who was an enormously respected figure in the game.

"He was one of the leading referees through the 1970s and early 1980s," Annesley said.

"He refereed as he lived his life, with honour, integrity and passion. The fact that he played the game at the highest level and then went on to be such a significant contributor as an official is testament to that love for the game.

"On behalf of the game, I'd like to extend our deepest condolences to Jack's family."

Danzey's father, also named Jack, also played first grade for Newtown and Balmain. Danzey Jr went on to become the NSWRL refereeing co-ordinator after retiring from on-field officiating.