Tributes paid to former Halifax and England rugby league player Stephen Holgate
Tributes have been paid to former Wigan Warriors, Halifax and England rugby league player Stephen Holgate, who has died at the age of 49.
Holgate's passing was announced on social media by his first club, Workington.
Holgate began his career with Workington in 1994 and was in the Wigan team that beat Leeds in the inaugural Super League Grand Final in 1998.
He made one appearance for England in 1995 and also played for Hull and Halifax before retiring in 2000.
In a tweet, Workington said: "It's with great sadness that we learn of the passing of ex-player Stephen Holgate.
"An extraordinarily talented player who we are privileged to say graced Derwent Park. Rest in Peace marra."
Local rivals Whitehaven tweeted: "It is with great sadness that the club have learned of the passing of local lad Stephen Holgate who represented his county, Wigan and our neighbours @WorkingtonTown as well several other clubs. Our condolences go to his family and all connected with Stephen. RIP."
A tweet from the Wigan account read: "Wigan Warriors are deeply saddened to hear of the news that Stephen Holgate has died, aged 49. Holgate played 22 games for Wigan in 1998, including the Super League Grand Final. We send our deepest condolences to Stephen’s family and friends at this awful time."
A tweet from the Hull FC account read: "Hull FC are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former player, Stephen Holgate. Having won the 1998 Grand Final with Wigan, the England international represented FC during the following campaign in 1999. The club sends their condolences to Stephen's family and friends."
Long-time Press Association rugby league correspondent Ian Laybourn tweeted: "Sad to hear of the death of Cumbrian forward Stephen Holgate at just 49. He was in the Wigan team that won the inaugural Grand Final in 1998."
Fellow journalist Richard de la Riviere tweeted: "Just heard the awful news that the former England, Workington and Wigan forward Stephen Holgate has passed away. Holly played for England in 1995 and won the inaugural Grand Final with Wigan in 1998. He was a lovely fella. Rest in peace, Stephen.
Ex-Warriors press officer Dave Swanton tweeted: "So sad to read that Stephen Holgate who played for @WiganWarriorsRL in the 1998 Grand Final has passed away. Great lad RIP."
Former team-mate Martin Holden tweeted: "Terrible news, he was part of the same BARLA team I played in back in 1992-93, proper nice lad .... things took a turn for the worse when he retired by the looks of it. Very sad indeed."