Laurie Doust
We were once again reminded of the passage of time when League official Laurie Doust, aged 84, passed away on October 18, 2005.

The father of St George Illawarra chief executive Peter Doust, Laurie Doust was also the NSWRL vice president from 1982-95 and a NSWRL Board member from 1986-1995. He was made a life member of the NSWRL in 1995 and served on a number of sub committees including coaching and development, boundaries and appeals.

NRL chief executive David Gallop paid tribute to Laurie Doust's many contributions to Rugby League.

"Laurie gave the best part of a lifetime on boards and committees and had a huge impact on St George and ultimately St George Illawarra," he said.

"Everyone in the game offers their deepest sympathies to Peter and to all in the family."

Laurie Doust was the head of selectors at St George from 1956-61. A tough and sometimes ruthless negotiator, he played an integral part in the recruitment and retention of St George players during the era when the club won 11 consecutive premierships. Doust is credited with identifying some of the club's greatest stars during the golden years of the St George Dragons.

However, there was more to Laurie Doust than a few floral tributes.

During an interview with Larry Writer in 1995, Doust maintained that league legend Johnny Raper was the club's best signing when in 1958, the Newtown star was confronted in his mother's home during a Bluebags' gathering.

The story goes that Doust went behind enemy lines, securing Raper's signature while Newtown officials were drinking by the backyard BBQ. The boldness of this wasn't lost on the Newtown club who to this day, still hold a grudge.

"The best acquisition we ever made was Raper," Doust said.

"We signed him sitting on his twin brother's cot at his parents Riverwood home on Johnny's 19th birthday in 1958."

An astute talent scout, Doust approached a 16-year-old Billy Smith in 1959, offering him a run in the St George third grade team.

"I didn't know how old he was," said Doust, "just that he played brilliant football."

Smith's father opposed his son being graded at such a young age and Doust reluctantly sent the future champion playmaker back to the St George juniors.

In 1962, Doust made one of the greatest signings in the club's history when Graeme Langlands agreed to terms for the 1963 season. Under instructions from club secretary Frank Facer, Doust kept an eye on Langlands who was playing grade football in Wollongong.

Initially unimpressed with the young centre-fullback, Doust haggled with the Wollongong club secretary, stating that the £3000 release fee was too high.

"His club secretary wanted £3000 for his release. I thought it was a bit rich, and tried to talk him out of it." Doust recalled.

"'I tell you what,' I said, 'Graeme will play for Australia, so instead of a £3000 release fee upfront, why don't we pay you £1000 now and another 1000 quid every time he plays an international.' Not really thinking Langlands was the goods, I believed I was on very safe ground."

"'Sorry', said the secretary, "I'm not budging. £3000 here and now or no deal.' So we coughed up."

History shows that Laurie Doust signed up Langlands who stayed 14 seasons with St George and went on to play 34 Tests, 11 World Cup and 45 tour matches, representing Australia no less than 90 times.

- Steven Williams.

Ref: Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney Telegraph, and Never Before, Never Again (by Larry Writer).

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