Former Noosa Dolphins player Halley Appleby.
Former Noosa Dolphins player Halley Appleby.

Coast footballer dies after tackle

A FORMER Sunshine Coast rugby player who was hurt during a match in Brisbane has had his life support turned off this morning.

 University of Queensland Rugby Football Club forward Halley Appleby, 21, was tackled during a match against home side GPS at Ashgrove on Saturday.

He lost consciousness and was taken to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital in a critical condition. It is believed he may have had a heart attack.

However his condition worsened and he was pronounced brain dead on Sunday.

A police spokesman confirmed Halley had died at the hospital after his life support was switched off this morning.

UQ Rugby Football Club said their thoughts and prayers remained with Halley and the Appleby family.

''UQ Rugby Club would like to thank all clubs and individuals for the on-going messages of support for Halley and the Appleby family,'' a statement on its website said.

Halley played with the Noosa Dolphins as a junior, before attending high school at Nudgee College where he continued to excel.

Despite working as a carpenter in Brisbane, he continued to play for the Dolphins until last year when he decided to join the University club.

Dolphins coach Stuart Beakey said the 21-year-old was a talented player who the club would have liked to retained.

“We were trying to get him a job to keep him up here but it didn’t work out,” he said.

“He was an outstanding player, right from his younger days with the club, and he had a lot of mates here.

“I spoke to some of them this morning and they’re devastated.”

 Catriona, a Sports Trainer and Medic with the Uni team, posted a tribute on the Green and Gold rugby site, saying how Uni v GPS games were always hard-fought, tough encounters.

"Like so many of the Premier teams throughout Brisbane players on both sides went to school together, played club football together, and know the same people. In short, they’re mates.

 "Heather and I have been involved with Uni for more than ten years each as sports trainers on a volunteer basis.

"In that time, we both feel that the greatest reward we have received is getting to know these fantastic people and their families, and being a part of the in-jokes and camaraderie that we’ve only ever found around rugby.

"The boys become like family, like a hundred little brothers you laugh with, laugh at, and care for.

  "On Saturday one of our boys went into what we’d all consider a good hit. In a one in a billion freak event this time he didn’t get up.

"It was our worst nightmare, and it was happening to one of our cheeky little brothers. In true rugby family fashion, anyone in the crowd who thought they might be able to help came down and offered to help.

  " We’ve been asked over and over again if we’re ok, if we need anything, how we’re feeling, what happened. How do you answer those questions? There are no words to express our grief.

"The outpouring of support to Halley’s family and club mates is overwhelming. It’s also much appreciated, and will be needed in the coming days, weeks and months.

  " In all of this we also ask for the same level of support and compassion to be given to the GPS boys. The tackle was hard but fair as a Premier grade tackle should be.

"There were no extenuating circumstances, it was just one of those things. Every player has been both a recipient and a giver of that exact tackle hundreds or thousands of times. It was just one of those things.

 "There were two teams out there on the weekend, and everyone lost someone and something. This was a horrible tragic accident and I can’t even begin to imagine how they are feeling.

"Halley was doing what he loved against boys he had known for years. He played the game as hard as they did.''

Premier Anna Bligh and Sport Minister Phil Reeves passed on their sincere condolences to the family and friends of the 21-year-old..

“For a young man with such a bright future to lose his life in this way is heartbreaking,” Ms Bligh said.

“He was in his prime and he had the world at his feet and it is cruel that he should be taken from his family in this way. I offer my condolences to his family and friends.”

Minister Reeves said the young sportsman’s death was a terrible loss.

“This is such a tragedy for a player so young and I offer my heartfelt condolences to his family and those who shared his love for rugby and his sportsmanship,” Mr Reeves said.

Halley - a former student at Brisbane GPS private boys' school St Joseph's Nudgee College - lists his hometown as Eumundi.

He had been living in the inner Brisbane suburb of Woolloongabba.

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