To his NRL teammates, Ryan Tandy was the practical joker, the life of the party.
If only they knew then what they know now.
The personal demons Tandy masked for so long shockingly came to light when the chronic gambler and suspected addict was found dead from a drug overdose at his parents’ home at Saratoga on the NSW Central Coast on Monday.
A late bloomer in rugby league, Tandy’s story had the makings of a rugby league fairytale.
Instead it became a tragedy.
Two years after scaling the heights of an NRL premiership, Tandy was banned for life in October 2011 by the NRL when found guilty of match fixing.
Investigations were launched following a $30,000 betting plunge on the Bulldogs’ August 2010 NRL clash with North Queensland.
Tandy had relocated to Canterbury mid-season after savouring the 2009 title with Melbourne that was later annulled due to an elaborate salary cap rort.
The problem gambler’s life began to spiral out of control in Sydney.
So much so that Tandy was found to have placed bets on the Cowboys scoring the first points with a penalty goal in the now infamous 2010 clash.
Early in that game Tandy knocked on before giving away a penalty in front of his team’s posts.
He pleaded not guilty to match fixing but was convicted, fined $4000 and placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond.
Trouble followed Tandy in life after football.
He was accused of being the “hired muscle” in the kidnapping of a man in January on the NSW Central Coast over a drug debt.
Tandy had been due in court next month.
He was living at the Saratoga home as part of his bail conditions.
Still, just like in their playing days former teammates could only see the good in Tandy.
Bryan Fletcher said a recent meeting with Tandy had him convinced his former South Sydney teammate was ready to turn his life around.
Fletcher said Tandy was excited about a new business venture selling compression garments with former Melbourne half Matt Orford.
And Tandy was believed to be about to release a new book he had written about his troubled life.
“He had his problems punting … but I wouldn’t have seen this coming,” Fletcher told Fox Sports.
Fletcher said Tandy gave the impression he was keen to launch a league comeback and add to the 36 NRL games he had played for five clubs from 2003-10.
“He said if I had any leads with footy clubs,” he said.
Former Storm teammate Steve Turner added: “He was the life of the party amongst the playing group. He loved a practical joke.
“He was a champion bloke to be honest.”
Sadly Tandy’s legacy won’t be remembered that fondly.