FORMER Warrington Wolves hard man Les Boyd has described Tommy Raudonikis as the 'bravest and toughest little player' he appeared alongside on a rugby league field.

Scrum-half Raudonikis, one of the Australian game's great characters, has died, aged 70, after a long battle with cancer, and Boyd has spoken today about the iconic face-slapping warm-up routine in their Western Suburbs Magpies days.

Boyd, a Wire 1980s legend who won the Harry Sunderland Trophy for his man of the match display in the 1986 Premiership Trophy success over Halifax at Elland Road in Leeds, spoke about his good mate when appearing on a special tribute show.

The ex-Kangaroos forward and Raudonikis, a member of the 1978 Australian touring side that lost to The Wire at Wilderspool, played key roles in the Magpies’ success under coach Roy Masters in the late 1970s when a face-slapping technique was used to fire up the players before a game.

“It was started by Roy Masters, he was a very smart man,” Boyd told NRL 360 on Fox League.

“We weren’t the most talented team in the competition by any means, but he knew we had plenty of guts and desire to win. So he kind of used this thing that it's 'us against them'.

“It worked for a lot of our players, because a lot of them were hardworking and battlers. You'd get in the changing rooms and it was right down Tommy’s alley.

"He loved that tough stuff, getting in the trenches and getting players up before the game.

“Sometimes when you ran out, you felt bulletproof. Tommy would be telling you how good you are and what you were going to do.

"It would have been fairly scary playing at Lidcombe Oval in those days, we went three years without getting beaten there.

“All of that was down to Roy and Tommy’s philosophy. That was our fortress and we had to defend our fortress.

"Tommy was a really competitive little bloke and to play with him was a great honour."

Later they would become fierce rivals on the field, though still best of friends off it and they continued to speak regularly until Tommy's death.

After Boyd moved to Manly, he and Raudonikis - who was then playing for Newton Jets - squared up in an infamous brawl that occurred early in the 1981 semi-final.

“It was never part of our plan at Manly to do that,” said Boyd.

“Tommy had a philosophy from our Wests days and it was that Manly didn’t handle the rough stuff well. It was one of the ways we went about putting them off.

“He took that to Newtown with him, Tommy fed the first scrum and Steve Bowden started a fight which they had planned and Tommy admitted that in private.

“He always says Manly started it. But it was Tommy who started it, and it worked and in the first half they played well and put us off our game and they led easily at half-time.

“What he did paid dividends for Newtown.”

Raudonikis, who was inducted into the NRL Hall of Fame in 2008, played 239 first grade games for Western Suburbs and Newtown - and captained both clubs, 24 games for New South Wales and 60 for Australia.

He coached Western Suburbs from 1995 to 1999, and NSW for the 1997 and 1998 State of Origin series.

Boyd concluded: "Tommy wasn't the greatest footballer in the world or the most skilful footballer, but he was the most passionate and probably the bravest and toughest little player I've played with in my life.

"His desire and want to win got him to where he got to. He was exceptional and you don't come across people like Tommy very often. He would do anything to win a game of football, and I've lost a good friend."