The rugby league fraternity was in mourning today after Sharks and Australian great Steve Rogers was found dead at his Cronulla home.
Police were not treating his death as suspicious but a cause of death was not immediately known.
Early indications suggested Rogers had suffered a heart attack.
Sharks management confirmed that Rogers had just returned from an overseas holiday.
The 51-year-old was found shortly after 9am on the landing of his unit by his brother-in-law after he had failed to make it to a breakfast get-together.
Rogers was widely regarded as one of the best players of the 1970s, a skilful footballer who was equally at home in the centres, five-eighth or lock.
He played 21 Tests for Australia, went on three Kangaroo tours and also represented NSW 20 times in a senior rugby league career that spanned from 1973 to 1986.
In 1975, Rogers received the game's highest individual honour when he was awarded the Rothmans Medal.
A veteran of 231 premiership games, including 202 for the Sharks, Rogers went on to become a successful administrator and was the general manager of the Cronulla side until he died.
Rogers played grand finals for Cronulla against Manly in 1973 and 1978 and strove to take the Sharks to a premiership title - something the club had not done since entering the national competition in 1967.
"I'm a firm believer it will make people even stronger for him, I can't say much more," an emotional Cronulla chairman Barry Pierce said today.
Sharks football manager Greg Pierce said the news had come as a great shock.
"He was due back at work on Monday and I was due to go off for a couple of weeks ... he had been on holidays in Europe for a period and we were just going to [talk] about the state of the nation kind of thing - and it's just quite unbelievable the fact that he won't be there," Pierce said.
Former St George and Australian teammate Rod Reddy believed Rogers was without peer as a player when at the peak of his powers.
"I probably rated Steve Rogers in the era that I played in as the most complete player there was," Reddy said.
Former Canberra centre Mal Meninga, who roomed with Rogers on the 1982 Kangaroo tour, said Rogers had taken him under his wing and showed him the ropes "both on the footy field and off the footy field".
"He was a great character, well respected within the team and obviously he reached some really great heights as far as his career was concerned as well," Meninga said.
Quick off the mark, a silky ball player and a more than capable goalkicker, Rogers held the Sharks' all-time pointscoring record for all grades of 1281 before being overtaken by his son Mat in 2001.
Mat Rogers left the club to start a successful rugby union career in 2002.
The NSW Waratahs issued a statement today saying the 29-year-old would be granted compassionate leave from the state side until he is ready to return.
Australian Rugby League chairman Colin Love also paid tribute to Rogers, describing him as "one of the great champions of the game's post-war years".
"Our hearts go out to Steve's family and many friends," Love said.
"His death at 51 is first and foremost a human tragedy - but it's such a tragedy too for rugby league and for Australian sport.
"Players of such talent come along very rarely in any game - and ours will remember him as one of the great ones."
NRL chief executive David Gallop described Rogers' passing as "a huge shock for everyone".
"He was an absolute champion of our game and in more recent years a really dedicated official," Gallop said.
"He loved his club. I can well remember going into Sharks dressing rooms - win or lose [and] his passion was there for everyone to see for his club and they must be absolutely reeling [at Cronulla]."
Rogers, whose first wife Carol died of cancer in 2001, is survived by his second wife Ingrid and children Mat, Don and Melanie.
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