Joel Dark remains in a critical condition in John Hunter Hospital after collapsing on the field during his Newcastle Rugby League top grade debut.
The 21-year-old had a seizure shortly after suffering a head knock at Charlestown's St John Oval in Sunday's Real NRL match between Central and Western Suburbs. Dark is the cousin of Sydney Roosters rugby league player Boyd Cordner.
According to a public statement from The Butcher Boys, Dark was operated on overnight and is "fighting hard" in the intensive care unit.
"Joel's family is very appreciative of the support he's received and we at the club are very humbled by all the well wishers for Joel and his family," the statement from Central said.
"Out of Respect for Joel's family we won't be making any further comments at the moment.. thank you again.
"We sincerely appreciate all the support."
The club and Newcastle Rugby League have also announced a counselling session at Central Leagues Club.
The service is available to anyone who has been affected by the incident including players, officials, coaching staff, volunteers, parents, family or anyone who was at the game. The session starts at 6pm at the club.
INITIAL REPORT: SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 6
Central coach Phil Williams has praised the "magnificent" efforts of club members during an emergency situation at Charlestown's St John Oval on Sunday afternoon, helping a debutant who collpased on the field.
Joel Dark was playing his first game in the Newcastle Rugby League top grade when he had a seizure shortly after suffering a head knock.
The 21-year-old was assisted at the ground by several people, including teammate and firefighter Brad Russell, before at least five ambulance vehicles and two police cars arrived.
Medical staff continued to treat him at the scene of the incident.
A NSW Ambulance spokesperson said initial concerns about a cardiac arrest were dismissed and the player was then taken to John Hunter Hospital in a serious condition.
A Hunter New England Health representative later said he was in a critical condition.
Williams said his "thoughts are with Joel and his family at the moment. We wish him all the best and know he's in the best possible place for treatment at John Hunter Hospital".
Central's mentor gave "credit to our support staff. During a crisis they just took charge. They were all magnificent".
Williams said it had been a "special day" for Dark, who was "having a good game" after being called up to the main squad.
The Butcher Boys rookie had been presented with a jersey by his father in the dressing sheds before kick-off.
"It just puts everything into perspective," Williams said.
"Family and friends and health are more important than any sport."
Williams added that club members, particularly teammates, would "rally around Joel and his family and each other".
A NSW Rugby League official confirmed "the incident is believed to have occurred 15 minutes into the second half following a head knock". Furthermore, the state sporting body were "investigating the incident and awaiting reports from match officials and medical authorities".
The round eight match between Central and Western Suburbs was abandoned. The score had been 10-6 in favour of Wests midway through the second half.
It was the only men's tier one fixture scheduled this weekend with byes for the remaining five clubs - Wyong, Cessnock, Souths, Lakes and Maitland.
In the lower grade games that were completed at St John Oval earlier on Sunday, wins were recorded by Central over Nelson Bay in both under 19s (26-0) and women's Blues Tag (46-4).
Maitland hosted Souths on Saturday with results split, the Pickers narrowly claiming under 19s (20-18) while the Lions were victorious in women's Blues Tag (20-16).
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here
IN THE NEWS: