The rugby league community is grieving the death of promising junior player Joel Dark, cousin of Kangaroos and Sydney Roosters captain Boyd Cordner.
Dark, 19, collapsed on the field after suffering a head knock in a heavy tackle while playing for Central Newcastle last Sunday.
He was taken to John Hunter Hospital for emergency brain surgery and had been in a critical condition for the past week.
NSW Rugby League (NSWRL) officials confirmed Dark died from his injuries this morning.
The game last Sunday was his debut for Central Newcastle’s first-grade team.
Cordner was allowed to leave the Roosters’ biosecurity bubble earlier this week to visit his cousin in hospital in Newcastle.
In a statement, Dark’s family said they were thankful for the support they had received from the local community over the past few days.
A social media fundraiser has raised more than $100,000 to assist his family.
NSW Rugby League said in a statement, it was “saddened to hear of the tragic passing”.
“The Newcastle Rugby League has postponed all fixtures for this weekend out of respect for Joel and his family,” the statement said.
“The NSWRL and the Rugby League community extend their most sincere condolences to Joel’s family.”
NRL club Newcastle Knights said it is was deeply saddened by Dark’s death.
General Manager of Football, Danny Buderus, said: “We are a club with a heavy heart at the news of Joel’s passing.”
“The Dark family have many friends throughout our team and town, and we are standing alongside them today mourning this unimaginable loss.
“I know the family will get all the support they need from the tight knit community of Old Bar in the days and weeks ahead, along with the entire game as we unite in this tragic loss.”