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The Illawarra rugby league community is in mourning after a young player collapsed and could not be revived after a game between the Dapto Canaries and Western Suburbs Red Devils on Saturday.

Tory Brunning (pictured above, standing in the middle, second row) had played with the Canaries in reserve grade and was due to back-up for the first-grade side at Dapto Showground.

But he became ill in the sheds and was withdrawn. It was only after that game ended that Brunning's condition deteriorated and doctors and paramedics began working on him frantically.

He did not respond to repeated attempts to revive him.

Brunning, in his early 20s, is a former student of Illawarra Sports High School, where he earned selection in the Australian Combined High Schools team.

Chris Bannerman, Illawarra District Rugby League general manager, said it was a tragedy no family should have to go through – especially on the eve of Mother's Day.

"It appears to be a terrible tragedy and we extend our sympathies to his family and friends, and everyone who was involved yesterday at the venue," he said.

"We've been working with the CRL and NRL to provide welfare support to players and others associated with both clubs. That's already started and we'll be continuing with it."

The CRL also released a statement offering its deepest sympathies to Brunning's family, his friends and teammates and an assurance any support or counselling needed would be provided.

"In respect for the family of Mr Brunning, CRL will not be making any further comments at this time," it said.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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