Death at Ballina versus Lower Clarence league game at Kingsford Smith Park in Ballina. Photo The Northern Star
Death at Ballina versus Lower Clarence league game at Kingsford Smith Park in Ballina. Photo The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

Zane’s last touch, moments before his death

WITH his last touch Zane Purcell made a break to set up his Lower Clarence Magpies reserve grade captain-coach Mikee Randall to score.

Moments later his teammates and those at Ballina's Kingsford Smith Park were in shock as the 29-year-old lay motionless shortly after attempting a tackle.

Lower Clarence president Steve Austine played in the match and was on the field when the incident unfolded.

"When it happened I was just shocked," Austine said.

"It was something that was just so hard to believe.

"As soon as we realised he was not moving a couple of us ran over to help him. We were trying to rub his feet and his hands to help him out and get him awake.

"Then as soon as the off duty paramedic from Ballina came over to assist we realised it was really serious and backed away to give him space.

"It was really bloody tough to watch. It was just so saddening. Everyone was really scared."

RELATED: Community mourns Zane 'Harry' Purcell

Yesterday Austine made a statement on behalf of Lower Clarence Magpies Rugby League Club offering its deepest sympathies to Zane "Harry" Purcell's family, friends and teammates.

"We ask everyone in our community to offer support to those who may need it at this incredibly difficult time," he said.

"We would like to thank off duty paramedic Joey O'Connor, the four paramedics who attended the ground and Ballina Hospital for doing everything they possibly could for Zane.

"We would also like to thank Ballina Seagulls, the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League, Country Rugby League and the National Rugby League for all the support that they have offered to the family, friends and teammates of Zane.

"Zane was a loyal friend who would do anything he could for those he loved."

Casino Cougars president Stuart George, Cudgen Hornets president Aaron Bryant and Mullumbimby's Wajan Watkins are among those who also extended sympathies and condolences on behalf of their respective clubs.

NRRRL president Brian Rix said the organisation was working with the NRL and CRL to assist the family and Lower Clarence club.

"Welfare sessions have been organised for Lower Clarence tomorrow (Tuesday) for family, friends and teams," Rix said.

"The NRRRL offers its condolences to everyone involved and will continue to monitor how things are progressing."

Purcell's death is among a number of on-field tragedies in recent weeks.

In April, Nicholas Tooth, 25, died after sustaining a head injury while playing for Quirindi Lions in a Central North Rugby Union match, while Aaron Mahoney, 24, died following a tackle during an AFL game in Victoria on May 2.


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