Webb
Former NRL star Carl Webb has died at age 42 from motor neurone disease. Image by Renee McKay/AAP PHOTOS
  • rugby league

Ex-NRL star Carl Webb dies aged 42 after MND battle

Jasper Bruce December 22, 2023

Former Queensland State of Origin representative Carl Webb has been remembered as one of the toughest players of his generation after his death at the age of 42.

The former forward had been battling motor neurone disease since 2020, and after his diagnosis established the Carl Webb Foundation to raise funds and awareness of the condition.

Webb made his NRL debut with Brisbane in 2000 and quickly became known as one of the toughest customers in the game.

His strength on the field was matched in the club gym, the workmanlike forward still holding the Broncos’ records for bench press (180kg) and back squat (252.5kg).

“Life is about more than footy, and Carl reminded us what’s truly important – family and friends, and we are so grateful to have had him as part of the Broncos family for as long as we did,” Broncos coach Kevin Walters said on Friday.

“Every time he walked into our place, you felt the respect and admiration from so many.

“We’re about building good people, and there’s no better example of that than Carl Webb – he’ll be dearly missed.”

Webb began a six-year stint with North Queensland in 2005 but missed that year’s grand final through suspension.

Brisbane and the Cowboys announced that the 2024 Good Friday derby between the two clubs would honour Webb’s legacy.

“He was a footballer’s footballer, uncompromising and one of the toughest to wear our jersey,” said Cowboys chief executive Jeff Reibel.

“His unrelenting intensity in which he played the game was matched off the field by the respect and love for not just his teammates, but for everyone who came in contact with him.

“Even in recent times, when fighting this horrible disease, he found a way to put a smile on his face and those around him.”

At representative level, Webb earned 12 caps for the Maroons, memorably scoring a try on Origin debut as a 20-year-old in 2001.

Carl Webb tussles with Luke Bailey.
 Maroons forward Carl Webb tussles with NSW’s Luke Bailey in the 2005 State of Origin series opener. Image by Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS 

Footage of him throttling NSW prop Luke Bailey with the letter “Q” shaved into his head has become an iconic image of Origin folklore.

Webb went on to feature across the first three series of Queensland’s eight-year dynasty and won a single Test cap for Australia in 2008.

The Mt Isa-born forward also featured in the maiden Indigenous All Stars match in 2010 and spent the 2011 campaign with Parramatta before retiring.

“Anyone who has come across Carl’s battle will have been touched by his bravery,” said ARL commission chairman Peter V’landys.

“On behalf of the commission, I extend my condolences to Carl’s family, friends and all those who played with and knew him.”