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Manly workout 'inappropriate' before young player died

Sam McKeith -

An NRL club's training session in a hot gym was likely inappropriate before the death of a young player who collapsed from heat stroke, a coroner has found.

Manly Sea Eagles player Keith Titmuss, 20, suffered a seizure after an indoor workout session at the club's base  on Sydney's northern beaches, on November 23, 2020.

Titmuss was transported to Royal North Shore Hospital but died five hours later having suffered a cardiac arrest.

An inquest examining the death was told the budding NRL player most likely suffered exertion heat stroke, although an autopsy was inconclusive.

Deputy State Coroner Derek Lee on Friday delivered findings in the inquest, concluding that the training session at the Narrabeen dojo was "more likely than not inappropriate".

Among recommendations for the NRL, the coroner said the governing body should mandate a two-week acclimatisation period when players return from off-season, and use Titmuss' death as a case study to raise awareness on heat stroke.

He urged Manly to review its record-keeping processes on adverse health events like heat stroke to make sure they were "robust and reliable".

Mr  Lee said when Titmuss entered the "very hot and very humid" gym he was likely suffering dehydration before developing exertional heat stroke.

He described the workout as one of the more demanding training sessions aimed at pushing players past fatigue, noting Titmuss had a low level of aerobic fitness among the playing group.

It was unclear if a fan in the gym was operating at the time, and ice nearby could have been applied to him although it was unknown if that would have helped alleviate his symptoms

Mr Lee said Titmuss' death was "tragic and devastating", describing the young man as kind, gentle, respected and "salt of the earth".

Outside court, his mother Lafo Titmuss said she was pleased to get certainty on her son's cause of death and urged all involved to adopt the recommendations.

Flanked by family and supporters, she said she wanted the NRL to emphasise the importance of heat policy and not underestimate the impact of heat.

Ms Titmuss has previously said she hopes recommendations from the inquest will be instructive for the NRL and other sporting codes.

Manly chief executive Tony Mestrov said a death like that of Titmuss can't happen again in the game.

"We all understand that and we don't want it to happen under Manly's watch ever again," Mr Mestov told reporters.

Sam McKeith - AAP

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