Manly coach Des Hasler has paid tribute to Keith Titmuss as a “popular” Sea Eagle after the emerging forward died following a training session on Monday.
Titmuss’ death has shocked the NRL, with Manly players called into a meeting on Monday afternoon to be told of the tragic news.
The 20-year-old had been a rising star at the club, having delivered them their maiden Holden Cup title in 2017 with a try on the siren to beat Parramatta.
The play was the last in the 10-year history of the competition, with the footage of him flying over the tryline set to be repeated regularly in coming days.
The front-rower claimed the players’ player award in Jersey Flegg Cup in 2019, and had only just been promoted to their top-30 NRL squad for next season.
However he fell ill while stretching after a training session at the club’s Narrabeen base on Monday and was taken to hospital in an ambulance but later died.
“We are all devastated by this news,’‘ Hasler said.
“Keith was a very popular character amongst the playing group. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten by the Sea Eagles.”
Both Hasler and chief executive Stephen Humphreys visited Royal North Shore Hospital on Monday night but the young players’ cause of death remained unknown.
“Our club sends its deepest condolences to Keith’s family and friends and will provide them with all of the support they need during this difficult period,’‘ Humphreys said.
“We are working with the NRL’s wellbeing team to offer support and counselling to our playing group and staff.”
Both the NRL and the players’ union also paid tribute to the promising young prop, who many believed was destined for big things.
Manly have cancelled training for Tuesday, and are taking on the help of the NRL to best handle the situation.
“Rest easy brother,” under-20s teammate from 2017 and current Manly playmaker Cade Cust posted on social media.
Former Sea Eagle and now Wests Tigers backrower Michael Chee-Kam also posted a video of the title-winning under-20s try, with the caption “The OG clutch!”
Manly prop Martin Taupau was among others to post his condolences on social media.
“Absolutely heartbreaking. “Maguia lau malaga uso (have a good trip brother).”
“Heartbreaking,” former Sea Eagles player Jackson Hastings wrote on Twitter.
“Praying for Keith’s family, friends & teammates. Sending love! RIP.”
Clubs from around the NRL also sent their best wishes in the aftermath of the devastating news.