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League community mourns tragic passing of Joel Dark

The rugby league community is in mourning after Central Newcastle teenager Joel Dark died in John Hunter Hospital on Friday morning after suffering an on-field seizure during his local first-grade debut.

The 19-year-old had been in a critical condition after undergoing emergency surgery earlier this week.

He suffered a head knock while playing his first Newcastle Rugby League senior game for the Central Newcastle Butcher Boys on Sunday.

Dark and his older brother Kurtis have both been involved in the Knights' junior pathways systems and hail from Old Bar on the NSW's Mid North Coast.

Roosters, NSW and Australia skipper Boyd Cordner is a cousin of the Darks, and was this week granted an NRL exemption to leave the Roosters bubble to be by his cousin's bedside.

Cordner returned to Sydney to take part in Friday's captain's run ahead of the premiers NRL clash with Newcastle on Saturday.

The Roosters announced on Friday that players would wear black armbands as a sign of respect and that a minute's silence would be observed before kick-off at the SCG.

The Knights sent their condolences to the Dark family on Friday afternoon.

General Manager of Football, Danny Buderus, said: "We are a Club with a heavy heart at the news of Joel’s passing.

"The Dark family have many friends throughout our team and town, and we are standing alongside them today mourning this unimaginable loss.

"I know the family will get all the support they need from the tight-knit community of Old Bar in the days and weeks ahead, along with the entire game as we unite in this tragic loss."

The Newcastle Rugby League has called off all games this weekend out of respect for and his family and requested their privacy be respected.

Friends of Dark have started a GoFundMe page for the teenager's family, with more than $100,000 raised in five days.

The NSW Rugby League released a statement on Friday afternoon confirming Dark's death.

"The NSWRL and the Rugby League community extend their most sincere condolences to Joel's family," the statement said.

"They have expressed their gratitude to the Central Newcastle Rugby League Football Club, staff at the John Hunter Hospital and all those who have assisted and supported the family during this time."

Acknowledgement of Country

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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