Brian Noble hails the late Jeff Grayshon as a "brilliant" player and "mentor"

BRIAN Noble has paid tribute to his former Bradford Northern team-mate Jeff Grayshon, the ex-Great Britain captain who has died aged 72, describing him as a “brilliant” player who could “complement” any side.

Jeff Grayshon, left, with rookie Shaun Edwards ahead of Great Britain duty in 1985. (JPI MEDIA)

Birstall-born Grayshon enjoyed a remarkable career, starting out at Dewsbury in 1970 and playing on until 1995, when he played his final game with Batley at the age of 45.

A skilled forward, who played second-row and prop, he was part of Dewsbury’s title-winning side in 1972-73 and was a league champion with Bradford in both 1979-80 and again when they defended their crown the following year.

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Grayshon represented Yorkshire, won 11 caps for England and a further 13 with Great Britain, the last of which - having moved on to Leeds - came against New Zealand in the 1985 World Cup at the age of 36.

Grayshon rejoined his old Northern coach Peter Fox at Featherstone Rovers from 1988 to 1991, endearing himself to fans at Post Office Road, too.

He was player-coach at Batley from 1994 and carried on coaching at Mount Pleasant after he retired with more than 700 career appearances to his name.

Former Lions hooker Noble, 60, was a team-mate at Odsal in a great Northern pack and he recalled: “Jeff came from Dewsbury.

“I was one of the young kids who came through and he was part and parcel of that great team.

Featherstone Rovers' Jeff Grayshon, right, has words with Leeds' Garry Schofield after the pair are sin-binned for fighting. (JPIMEDIA)

“I consider him one of my mentors really.

“He started life as a full-back at Dewsbury and, at Bradford, he was a back-rower and then a front-rower.

“He elongated his career but was well worth it.

“He played against Australia as well at an age where he had a bruised birth certificate.

Jeff Grayshon scoring for Bradford Northern. (Rugby League Heritage Project)

“He was a fantastic bloke and I have really, really fond memories of him. “The social side of the game was a whole lot healthier then and we spent a lot of time together.

“He was a funny man and an inspiration on the field in many respects and some of the things he’d say to you at half-time were both impactful and necessary.

“He never wasted words. He was a brilliant player, who understood you had to run at space as much as you had to run into people and had a great offload.

“ Jeff was a really, really close friend of mine when I played. I am genuinely shocked and saddened to hear this.”

Grayshon - who played with his own son Paul in Northern's A team in 1986 - passed away last night after being diagnosed with Covid.

Noble added: “He was outstanding and would genuinely make anybody’s team now.

“He was very skillful. He wasn’t just barge it up and dump your face into the ground.

“He could find a pass and, in an era where you expect modern middles - as they’re called - to make passes and go to the line, Jeff could do that naturally.

“He could have played in the halves.

“He had a stint at Cronulla (in 1977) and that qualifies the quality of the player; if you go overseas and have Australia interested in seeing what you can do, you must have something about your game and Jeff certainly did.

“He would have complemented any team and his will to win and attitude were world-class.”