Tina Turner helped change rugby league forever, but one NRL icon missed the opportunity to be part of the magic.
The world was left in mourning after the American Music icon dies at 83 on Thursday.
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Her association with Australia through rugby league has been one of the most remarkable crossovers in recent sporting history.
It all started in 1989 when Turner starred in an iconic television ad campaign. with her singing What You Get Is What You See from her sixth solo album, Break Every Rule.
The powerful hit was intertwined with semi-obscene shots of running along the beach, in barns and at full speed of players on the field.
On Thursday night’s Channel 9 NRL report, Paul “Fat Man” Wotin revealed how the rock star effectively kicked him out of the campaign.
“They called me and said we need you to go to Marobra beach, we are going to shoot this commercial with Tina Turner and bring some sluggos (swimsuits),” Votin said.
“I showed up and was put between Wayne Pearce and Andrew Ettingshausen.
“I’m in a tough spot and it’s fair to say I’ve had a pretty long offseason. So we ran along the beach about five times, and then they said, let’s have a rest.
“I hear an American director say to someone, ‘Hey dude, who’s that fat hairy guy in the middle?’
“The guy says, ‘This is Paul Vautin, he’s Captain Manley, blah blah blah,’ and he says, ‘Well, dude, get him out of my hit.’
“So I was petted. I can not believe this. I’m still fat and hairy.”
The two-minute advertisement for the NSWRL, then known as the Winfield Cup, was an attempt to change the image of rugby league as a lousy sport and make it more familial and attractive to women.
Turner released her hit The Best the following year and filmed another rugby league promotional video, “Simply The Best”, which has entered Australian sports folklore.
The commercial was such a hit that the New South Wales Rugby League continued their relationship with Turner, inviting her to perform the best at the 1993 Grand Final at the Sydney Football Stadium.
The crowd chanted the famous “you’re just the best” lyric and Turner posed with the Brisbane Broncos trophy after they defeated the Dragons.
“Rugby league lost one of its greatest fans yesterday and that fan was my father George Wotin who passed away at 3:10 am on Thursday,” he said.
“He loved football, he played football in the 50s, he was a great guy.
“We had lunch on Monday, and on Tuesday he got sick. I actually witnessed his last breath at 3:10 am on Thursday morning.
“I want to thank the fantastic staff at Radcliffe Emergency Hospital, as well as the brilliant palliative care professionals. Dad, we will miss you. By the way, he was 95 years old and I know his life was cut short, but we are grateful for every minute spent with him.
“He was a wonderful husband to Leila, a wonderful father to Geoffrey, Deborah, Paul and Russell. Dad – rest in peace champion.
Originally published as Paul “Fat Man” Votin tells the story of how he was burned to advertise Tina Turner