LEIGH Centurions have sent their condolences to the family and friends of former prop forward Ricky Bibey who has died while on holiday in Italy.

Bibey had three separate spells for Leigh Centurions as part of a notable career that started out at Wigan and encompassed St Helens, Oldham and Wakefield Trinity.

Player Welfare Manager Ste Maden – and former teammate - paid tribute: “Ricky was a typical no-nonsense prop forward.

“He was a fantastic player to play alongside and a great lad as well, the life and soul of the party.

“Ricky feared no-one on a rugby pitch and always did the hard yards when you needed them and never shirked a challenge.

“That’s what made him such a popular player with his team-mates because he had everyone’s back, and he left it all on the pitch. He was a talented player, too, with a lot of football in him.

“Everyone who knew him will be so sad to hear this news. Our head coach Adrian Lam, head of rugby Chris Chester, and S&C coach Paul Johnson played alongside him at Wigan, and they are equally devastated.”

Leigh Centurions owner Derek Beaumont said: “This is extremely tragic news and my thoughts prayers and love go to all of Ricky’s family and in particular his father Ronnie and his brother Adam who are personal friends.

“I have known Ronnie and his family from being a young child myself and watched his children grow up.

“I often see Adam when training and have kept in touch since he played for the club. I cannot imagine his despair having lost his brother Barry and the difficulties I know that have presented him to now have to face this loss of his brother Ricky.

“Ricky was a big guy with a big heart a trait that runs through the family from Ronnie. I cannot imagine his pain or that of Ricky’s family.

“I will be praying for his family and May God give them strength during this time.”