STEVE PRESCOTT has revealed ex Hull star Steve Crooks gave him the will to raise more than £500,000 for charity before he died last November - seven years after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Steve played for England, Ireland and Great Britain and was given only months to live when he was told he had a rare form of abdominal cancer the day after his youngest son Koby was born in 2006.
But Steve, awarded the MBE in 2010, says in his autobiography "One in a Million," that he is indebted to his pal Steve Crooks.
Steve, 39, left a wife Linzi and sons Taylor, 12, and Koby, seven, when he died - three weeks after a 32-hour pioneering transplant operation when he was given a new stomach, pancreas, abdominal wall and bowel.
The St Helens-born full back was dubbed "Stevie Wonder" for dozens of gruelling challenges with all proceeds split between The Christie Hospital, Manchester and the Rugby League charity Try Assist.
He cycled from Lands End to John O'Groats, hiking up Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis en route, and rowed across the English Channel with ex St Helens superstar Paul Sculthorpe before running the London Marathon for a third time the next day.
Steve admitted in his book to be published this month:"September 8, 2006 should have been the happiest day of our lives with tears flowing freely after Linzi gave birth to Koby.
"Within hours the tears were those of fear, worry and pure devastation after being given the crushing news that would turn our lives completely upside down.
I was told I had tumours everywhere in my abdomen, inoperable and incurable. It's not possible to describe the emotion I went through when I was told I was going to die and not see my boys grow up.
I went home, shut myself in my room unable to face the world. I wanted to curl up and block everything out.
Then Steve Crooks, my old coach and friend, came hammering at my front door and made me go and sit downstairs.
He said:'Steve if you have got one day, one week or one month I know you will fight it.'
That is what I needed to hear and that was a real turning point in how I was going to face the world and fight cancer."
Crooks, 56, played for Hull KR, York and Hull and is now England RL performance coach in the Midlands.
He was assistant to Hull coach Peter Walsh when Steve moved from St Helens and said:
"I may have helped In a small way early on but Steve deserves all the credit.
We were both upset when I went to visit him and I said 'why don't you curl up and die then, despite the fact you have a brand new baby. If you are going to die then let's have a battle.'
The fight that came out of him in the last seven years was incredible and inspirational that is why he survived so long."
Wife Linzi, who wrote the last two chapters of the book, said:
"Stephen started writing the book in 2007 and it gave him something to do during the chemotherapy sessions.
He became extremely passionate about it and wanted to tell people what he was really going through behind closed doors and that it wasn't all about endurance challenges and smiling.
He asked me to finish the book when he became too ill and all the profits will go to our sons Taylor and Koby."
The book describes Steve's early days as a promising soccer player before being rejected and then joining hometown club St Helens where he won two Challenge Cup finals, scoring a try in the 1996 Wembley victory over Bradford.
He reveals he was "gutted" at his release from St Helens and his devastation after a career ending knee injury playing for Lancashire against Yorkshire in 2003.
There are emotional tributes from his rugby pals including Sculthorpe who took part in most of the challenges.
"The stuff we did was tough for me but for Steve in his condition even more remarkable.
I have never met anyone so mentally tough and I read a text he sent me shortly before he passed away.
It read 'I'm feeling stronger and back on the bike.'
That was just before his major transplant.
He was just a remarkable man and a lovely fella."