"Thank you for being an incredible man, thank you for giving so much to our Australia and thank you for being a great family man. God rest your soul".
With the support of New Zealand Rugby Union chairman Dick Littlejohn, he drove the creation of the first Rugby World Cup played in 1987, despite initial resistance from the northern hemisphere ranks within the IRB.
Shehadie was inducted into the International Rugby Board (IRB) Hall of Fame in 2011 in recognition of his services to the game and for being a key architect in establishing the World Cup. It is now the game's flagship event.
Shehadie's post-football career was just as formidable, commencing a career in public office in 1962 when he stood as an alderman for the council elections of the City of Sydney.
Mr Abbott tweeted: "Sir Nicholas Shehadie improved everything he was involved with".
The husband of former NSW governor Dame Marie Bashir held several distinguished positions including chairman of SBS and chairman of the NSW Rugby Union.
Sir Nicholas Shehadie was a towering figure in Australian rugby.
"Australian rugby captain... Sydney Lord Mayor..."
"He will be much missed by the Sunday morning walkers at Balmoral where he was a fixture until quite recently". He is survived by his wife and three children.
"While Alan Jones, who was Wallabies coach under Shehadie's administration said on radio: "[He was] a wonderful, wonderful Australian. a attractive man.
Sir Nicholas was appointed a companion of the Order of Australia in 1990. Thoughts are with Marie Bashir and their family.
A number of prominent figures including Tony Abbott, and Sydney radio host and former rugby union coach Alan Jones, paid tribute to Sir Nicholas on social media. A great Australian on many levels. "My thoughts and prayers are with the family", he tweeted.
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