23 Dec 2023

Former rugby league fan favourite Carl Webb dies aged 42

6:59 am on 23 December 2023
Carl Webb in action for the North Queensland Cowboys against the Warriors in 2006.

Carl Webb in action for the North Queensland Cowboys against the Warriors in 2006. Photo: photosport

Former Queensland and Australian rugby league forward Carl Webb has died aged 42.

Webb, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) four years ago, died on Thursday night, sources told the ABC.

A fan favourite in the NRL from 2000 to 2011, Webb was known for his rampaging running game at either prop or second row.

Webb burst onto the scene with Brisbane in his rookie year and made his State of Origin debut for the Maroons the following season.

His bullocking try in a thumping 34-16 victory over New South Wales helped pave the way for a Queensland series victory.

Webb's best football came after a move to North Queensland for 2005 and he played the majority of his 12 Origin matches while with the Cowboys.

He also notched one appearance for Australia in the famed Centenary Test in 2008 and earned two caps for the Indigenous All Stars.

Webb finished his career with one season at Parramatta before retiring in 2011 with 187 NRL games to his credit.

In 2020, he revealed he had been diagnosed with early onset motor neuron disease.

Webb is survived by four children.

North Queensland announced both its matches against Brisbane in 2024 will be played in tribute to Webb's life and career.

"Carl played a pivotal role in the transformational change at our club in the mid 2000s," Cowboys CEO Jeff Reibel said.

"He was a footballer's footballer, uncompromising and one of the toughest to wear our jersey.

"His unrelenting intensity in which he played the game was matched off the field by the respect and love for not just his teammates, but for everyone who came in contact with him.

"Even in recent times, when fighting this horrible disease, he found a way to put a smile on his face and those around him.

"We extend our heartfelt and deepest condolences to Carl's family and friends."

Broncos coach Kevin Walters, who played alongside Webb, said it was a "very sad day" for the club.

"Life is about more than footy, and Carl reminded us what's truly important - family and friends, and we are so grateful to have had him as part of the Broncos family for as long as we did," Walters said in a Broncos statement.

"Every time he walked into our place, you felt the respect and admiration from so many.

"We're about building good humans, and there's no better example of that than Carl Webb - he'll be dearly missed."

'The stuff of legend'

Another former teammate and current Queensland Rugby League CEO, Ben Ikin, also paid tribute to Webb.

"Everyone who watched Carl's journey over the past few years was inspired by his bravery," Ikin said.

"I found it truly remarkable that a guy who made a living out of being so powerful and explosive could handle with such grace the debilitating effects of MND.

"And while we marvel at Carl's courage dealing with MND, let's not forget that his exploits in the Maroons jersey are the stuff of legend.

"The things he did for Queensland, some of them well outside the bounds of polite society, will be on State of Origin highlights reels forever.

"Rugby league lost true warrior this week and our condolences go out to Carl's family at this very difficult time."

ARLC chairman Peter V'landys paid tribute to Webb in a statement on Friday afternoon.

"Anyone who has come across Carl's battle will have been touched by his bravery," V'landys said.

"He was a fearsome player and competitor and one of the toughest forwards to play in his era. He had a physical presence and aggression which was unmatched.

"He showed every bit of that toughness following his diagnosis with Motor Neurone Disease.

"Carl was a key part of some exceptional teams at Brisbane Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys and as a result was able to represent Queensland on 12 occasions, while also being selected for Australia in the Centenary Test in 2008.

"Carl also represented the Indigenous All Stars - forever being part of history by playing in the first match in 2010.

"On behalf of the Commission, I extend my condolences to Carl's family, friends, and all those who played with and knew him."

What is motor neurone disease?

MND is a term used for a group of diseases that affect nerve cells which are called motor neurones.

"Motor neurones normally carry messages from the brain to the muscles via the spinal cord," MND Australia's website explains.

"The messages allow people to make voluntary movements like walking, swallowing, talking and breathing.

"With MND, however, the nerves become damaged and start to die so muscles gradually get weaker and waste away."

Symptoms can include stumbling, difficulty holding objects, slurring of speech and swallowing difficulties, all of which are caused by weakening of the muscles.

There is no current cure and in "90 to 95 per cent of cases" the cause is unknown.

"In the other five to 10 per cent of cases, a genetic mutation is the cause of the disease," says MND Australia.

"The mutated gene is inherited from a parent.

"While MND is life shortening, research has shown that a team based approach and timely treatments can help people with MND live better for longer."

- This story was first published by [ https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-12-22/carl-webb-brisbane-north-queensland-motor-neurone/103259190 ABC]