TRIBUTES have continued to flow in after former rugby league player Tony Barrow died following a brave battle with illness.

The former Oldham and Swinton player, from St Helens, had been suffering from a brain tumour.

A group which had been raising funds and awareness of glioblastoma multiforme, the disease Tony suffered from, confirmed the news this afternoon.

The father-of-two from Thatto Heath showed strength and unswerving positivity while fighting the illness and his story featured in the Star.

He was diagnosed with the illness last year but his spirits never dropped as the rugby league community rallied to support him.

Last year Tony, son of Tony Barrow senior who played for Saints in the 60s, even ran the St Helens 10K with wife Ann-Marie.

Friends remarked how they were amazed how he kept smiling throughout the ordeal he faced.

He was a friend of the late Steve Prescott, who fought his own immense battle with cancer, and took strength from the former Saints full back's heroics.

Martin Blondel, of the Steve Prescott Foundation, said: "Tony was a tremendous supporter of the SPF and would be the life and soul at any of our events he attended.

"We are devastated and send our condolences to his family and friends." 

Speaking to the Star in an interview in 2015, Tony said: "I am an upbeat person and my main aim is to stay positive.

"I love St Helens and the support from everybody in the town and the rugby league community has been amazing.

"Being involved with the Steve Prescott Foundation has been a plus. It almost readies you being round such a positive person

"I'm from a very positive family who have been tremendous and with the help of people in rugby league and my experience with Steve this is a community that doesn't allow me to take a backward step.

"When you are in that world and you see how far someone can go it prepares you for this."

Tributes have flooded in on social media since the news of his death on Thursday broke out.

In a tribute the Swinton Lions club said: "Tony’s wholehearted and honest displays earned him great affection amongst Swinton fans, and those characteristics were also typical of the man himself in every way.

"The heartfelt condolences of everyone associated with Swinton Lions RLFC are extended to Tony’s family at this terribly sad time."