With heavy hearts, the NRL are today paying tribute to the one person solely responsible for generating female interest in their game.

Nicknamed ‘The Queen Of Rock N Roll’ – American songstress Tina Turner has passed away today at age 83, and is remembered in Australia as the unlikely face of rugby league football throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

The legendary singer sold more than 200 million records and won 12 Grammys in a career that spanned more than five decades and produced a catalogue of hit songs including River Deep (Mountain High)What’s Love Got To Do With It and The Best.

However, it was her ability to astronomically boost TV ratings for Australia’s national rugby league competition that proves everything she touched turned to gold.

In the late eighties, with the recently professionalised rugby league battling against the AFL and rugby union to assert itself as the dominate winter football code – the game needed a sexy rebrand, and quick.

General manager John Quayle came up with the idea to purchase the rights to Tina’s 1985 hit ‘What You Get Is What You See’ – and use it to promote the game with a highly sexualised TV ad sequence, featuring the singer mingling with a bunch of league’s most ‘presentable’ players in a variety of sexy settings – like on the beach and in the gym.

After the success of the What You Get Is What You See campaign, rugby league decided to double down, and invited Turner to Australia in early 1990 to film the advertisement that would slingshot rugby league to unprecedented popularity during the early 90s. Simply the best.

With the likes of Cliffy Lyons, ET and Wayne Pearce getting their kit off and frolicking with Tina Turner on the sand dunes – female audiences had no option but to pay attention.

Today the NRL pays tribute to Tina Turner, the first women to ever suggest that rugby league players weren’t just mouth-breathing piss wrecks – and were in fact actually, in the right light, perhaps rootable.

Vale Tina Turner, thank you for the sexual awakening.


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