David Topliss: Tributes to a legend

"MR RELIABLE both on and off the pitch" – that's how the family of rugby league legend David Topliss paid tribute after his death this week.

Mr Topliss – or Toppo to his legions of fans – died suddenly on Monday after collapsing at a five-a-side football match in Crofton.

Tributes to the former Wakefield Trinity, Hull, and Great Britain international have poured in from the rugby world and beyond.

His devastated family spoke to the Express of their shock and sadness.

His wife Daryl, 60, of Newmillerdam, said: "I feel privileged and very blessed to have had a man like David in my life.

"Those who really knew him will remember him as a gentleman, honest and solid.

"He was a private person – very humble and unassuming. Despite his achievements, he was devoid of ego."

Mr Topliss, 58, was born in Normanton and his first team was Normanton Juniors.

He played for Trinity for 13 years and was a member of England's 1972 World Cup-winning squad.

He took charge of Trinity between 1987 and 1994 and coached the Great Britain U21 side in 1989. He made his name in the sport's history books by scoring 270 career tries and was the fifth highest scoring half-back in rugby league history.

After retiring from coaching in 1994, Mr Topliss ran a plumbing business but never left the sport completely, mentoring up-and-coming players.

He also leaves behind two daughters, Sarah, 34, and Nicola, 33, and a four-month-old granddaughter, Faith.

Daughter Sarah Hartley-Jones, of Leeds, said: "Everyone knew David for excelling in rugby league but what people didn't know is that he also excelled as a father, husband and an individual. He would have done anything for his family and we were very close.

"He had to win in everything he did and was very fit, even when playing five-a-side with his veterans team. We used to joke he was always waiting for another call-up because he kept himself in such good condition. His death was very unexpected."

A funeral service will be held for Mr Topliss at Wakefield Cathedral on Wednesday at 12.30pm.

Mrs Topliss said: "David loved the simple things in life; his family, his home and his garden. He was a very positive person – he did a speech once at a school and told the children, 'you can do anything if you are determined enough.' That sums him up. He was Mr Reliable both on and off the pitch."

For more on David Topliss, click here