OUR day 24 of Great Saints for February is Tony Karalius (Heritage Number 838) - the club's very old school hooker of the late 60s through to the 1970s.

Bother of legendary former Saints skipper Vince and of Dennis, Karalius was a craftsman rugby league rake, adept at winning the ball in the melees that classed as contested scrums.

It was a tough world, but he also possessed the full bag of tricks for play in the loose, with that trademark Karalius strength, with hands like shovels assisting his offloading out of the tackle.

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His vision and tactical nous from dummy half was a key starting point to Saints’ attacking game in the 1970s.

In defence he was a tough tackler, and a master in the the art of the Cumberland throw.

However, Karalius initially had to bide his time and show his versatility in the back row after joining from his hometown Widnes in January 1967.

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He made his Saints debut the following month and frequent appearances followed in those first two years before he finally dislodged veteran Bill Sayer from the number nine shirt in the 1969-70 season.

Alas he missed the 1970 Championship Final win over Leeds with injury, but won a winner’s medal 12 months later in the famous triumph over Wigan at Swinton where he and the rest of the pack had to work overtime after John Mantle’s second half sending off.

Despite clocking up an eye-watering 49 matches in the 1971-72 season, in which he earned Great Britain and Lancashire call-ups, injury derailed his season end, denying him a place at Wembley in the win against Leeds.

After an unusual two-year barren silverware spell, a Saints team rippling with a talented back line and a mature pack were back in business during the 1974-75 season with Karalius a key component of a side that won the Division One title by a clear nine points.

1975-76 was another landmark season, with Karalius helping Saints to a trophy treble – the BBC Floodlit Trophy, Challenge Cup and Premiership.

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But it was in the baking heat of Wembley where Karalius helped direct the veteran Saints pack to victory over the more youthful cup holders Widnes and earn a place in club folklore.

He was a real box of tricks that afternoon – helping see off his hometown club in what would be Saints last Wembley win for 20 years.

He was not done yet, and a fortnight later Karalius finished the domestic season in style with a try to beat champions Salford in the Premiership Trophy Final. He joined the rest of the Saints team on the tour to Australia to play Queensland and the first World Club Challenge against Eastern Suburbs.

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The following year saw Karalius share his hooking duties with youngster Graham Liptrot, and often he reverted to the bench or back row where he remained an asset for Eric Ashton's team.

He came off the bench  in the 1977 Premiership Trophy win over Warrington, which would be his last final success.

He was also on the bench in the 1978 Wembley defeat by Leeds, but did not get on the field as Saints stuck with the same 13 for the full 80 minutes.

After 355 appearances for Saints, in which he scored 26 tries and heeled thousands of scrums,  he was sold to neighbours Wigan in October 1978 – but he still had some lines to pen in his rugby career.

And he skippered new boys Fulham, packed with fellow Widnesians, to a famous win over relegated Wigan in their first ever game at Craven Cottage.

Fulham won promotion that year, but Karalius had one final job as a pro – joining fellow former Saints George Nicholls and John Mantle at Cardiff Blue Dragons in 1981.