MORE than $50,000 has been raised in just 13 hours for injured league player Joel Dark.
The online GoFundMe campaign was launched to raise money for Dark's ongoing medical treatment and recovery costs.
"We'd like to raise as much as possible to help cover some of the out of pocket expenses and even though we know that Joel's family wouldn't want a bar of it, these are uncertain times and it's important for them to know that we are here if they need us," a note from the campaign organisers said.
Central Newcastle rugby league club has rallied to support Dark and his family after the debutant collapsed on the field on Sunday.
A cousin of Sydney Roosters, NSW and Australian captain Boyd Cordner, Dark remained in John Hunter Hospital after he had a seizure following a head knock at Charlestown's St John Oval in the match between Central and Western Suburbs.
A Hunter New England Health spokesperson said Dark was still in a critical condition on Monday but they were unable to confirm further details. However, it is believed Dark was in an induced coma after emergency surgery on Sunday night to relieve pressure from swelling on his brain.
The 21-year-old hails from Old Bar and was part of the Newcastle Knights' under-16 Harold Matthews grand final team in 2016. In that side, he played alongside current Knights first-grade players Bradman Best and Phoenix Crossland.
He had played with the Old Bar Pirates and was part of the Group 3 representative side.
His older brother, Kurtis Dark, was also a member of the Knights' junior squads.
A statement from Central Newcastle on Monday said Dark was operated on overnight and was "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 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 announced a counselling session at Central Leagues Club on Monday night from 6pm.
The service was available to anyone who had been affected by the incident, including players, officials, coaching staff, volunteers, parents, family or anyone who was at the game.
On Sunday, Central Newcastle coach Phil Williams has praised the "magnificent" efforts of club members during the emergency situation.
Dark was playing his first game in the Newcastle Rugby League top grade when he collapsed midway through the second half.
He was assisted at the ground by several people, including teammate and firefighter Brad Russell, before ambulance officers and police arrived.
A NSW Ambulance spokesperson said initial concerns about a cardiac arrest were dismissed and the player was taken to hospital in a serious condition. A Hunter New England Health representative later said he was in a critical condition.
Williams gave "credit to our support staff. During a crisis they just took charge. They were all magnificent".
He 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 was abandoned with Wests 10-6 in front.
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