ONE of Keighley RLFC's much-respected former players - Garfield Owen - has died aged 86.

Owen was a dual-code Wales international full-back, whose decision to 'go north' was a big enough story to merit live television coverage.

His decision to sign for Halifax RLFC was featured on Sportsview, BBC's flagship midweek programme, on Wednesday, October 17, 1956. Owen lived up to the hype by topping 1,000 points for the Thrum Hall side and, later, more than 700 points for Keighley RLFC.

Six months before becoming a codebreaker, he had won his sixth cap for Wales RU, helping them win union's then Five Nations championship, kicking a vital goal in a 5-3 win over France at Cardiff Arms Park.

At the same time, Halifax were one of rugby league's strongest teams and, in 1955-56, reached both the Challenge Cup and Championship finals, losing narrowly to St Helens and Hull FC respectively.

Keen to push on and win some silverware, they tempted Owen, who had also played for the Barbarians RUFC, to leave Newport RUFC, then one of the most successful union teams in Wales.

He immediately settled at first-team level in rugby league and by the end of his first season, was named as a reserve for Great Britain's World Cup squad.

He later gained a Wales cap, kicking a goal in a 25-8 defeat by France in Toulouse, in March 1959.

A year earlier, he had played for a rugby league XIII against France at Headingley, Leeds.

In January 1962, in a shock move, Owen was transferred to Keighley, where he was made captain-coach.

He made 127 appearances for the Lawkholme Lane club, whom he helped win promotion for the newly-created Second Division in 1962-63, kicking 348 goals and scoring three tries.

A talented all-round sportsman, Owen had been an international schoolboy cricketer, a javelin thrower, a local golfing champion in Wales, and was for many years a crown-green bowler, in addition to his outstanding skills he displayed at rugby.

A tremendous tackler, Owen was renowned for his toe-end style of kicking and the ability to hit the target.

He was inducted into both the Halifax RLFC and Keighley RLFC Halls of Fame.

Owen was a really likeable and popular person, a true and genuine sportsman and, above all, a true gentleman.