‘Lives can be saved’: Mother of NRL player who died after training sends message after inquest

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The mother of former Manly Sea Eagles player Keith Titmuss says she hopes his death will encourage heat-related injuries to be taken more seriously.

Keith Titmuss, 20, collapsed and later died of a heart attack at a Sydney hospital a few hours after a training session with the Manly Sea Eagles in November 2020.

A coronial inquest found he died of exertional heat stroke (EHS).

A girl holds a framed photo of Keith Titmuss

Keith Titmuss’s sister holds a photo of her brother outside court on Wednesday.(ABC News: Ethan Rix)

Arriving together at the New South Wales Coroners Court for the last day of witness testimonies, a large group of his family wore black shirts with his image on the front and 623 on the back, referencing his first-grade player number.

Holding a framed image of her son wearing a Sea Eagle’s jersey, Titmuss’s mother Lafo Titmuss read out a statement on behalf of the whole family saying her “Keithy” was “defined by his ability to stay true to himself regardless of his achievements”.

“Keithy has been described as unassuming, humble, honest…. kind, respectful, respected and loved by so many,” she said.

“He brought joy into our lives.

“He continues to make us proud to call him our son.”

Ms Titmuss said growing up her son loved playing both rugby league and rugby union but ultimately committed to league during high school.

A Manly rugby league players stands holding an award.

Manly player Keith Titmuss standing with a club award.(Twitter: Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)

She said he was known for “climbing mountains” and was promoted to the Manly Sea Eagles first grade side in 2020.

“He felt destined for big things, he had an extra bounce in his step and was focused — 2021 was going to be his year,” she said.

She told the inquest the family hoped her son’s death would see heat related injuries taken more seriously by sporting codes around the world.

“We are encouraged to learn of the NRL ongoing review into heat policies,” she said.

“Our ultimate aim is that heat related injuries will no longer be underestimated and that lives can be saved.”

A tribute video was played to the coroner featuring a montage of images of Keith Titmuss with family and friends, and during his playing career.

Afterwards, coroner Adam Casselden appeared emotional and thanked the family for their statement.

“It reminds us about Keith as more than just the footy player.. but also Keith the son, brother and friend,” Mr Casselden said.

Poor fitness test result was a ‘red flag’

The inquest previously heard Keith Titmuss had just completed a two-hour long outdoor training session with the club, before undertaking a 10-minute “high intensity” indoor exercise session, when he started to become agitated and then suffered several seizures on November 23, 2020.

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