- Mundine claimed Merritt had a life-threatening illness
- 40-year-old is fighting for his life in a Sydney hospital
- Suffered from a reaction to prescribed pain medication
Footy star turned boxing great Anthony Mundine has claimed former Rabbitohs winger Nathan Merritt struggled with a serious illness before suffering an adverse reaction to prescription pain medication that almost killed him.
Merritt, 40, is still fighting for his life in a Sydney hospital – and the man affectionately known as ‘Choc’ claims the prolific try scorer had also suffered from pneumonia before collapsing at his aunt’s house.
“He didn’t know he had it,” Mundine told the newspaper Daily telegram.
‘He kept asking for his puffer every ten minutes (during the recent Koori Knockout football tournament on the NSW central coast) because he was having trouble breathing.’
Merritt was found unconscious last Friday and has since been on life support at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
Boxing great Anthony Mundine has revealed that former Rabbitohs star Nathan Merritt struggled with a serious illness before being hospitalized and put on life support
Merritt, 40, is still fighting for his life in a Sydney hospital – and the man affectionately known as ‘Choc’ said the prolific tryscorer also had pneumonia
On Tuesday, his family released an update, confirming the former NRL star’s condition had improved ‘slightly’.
Merritt’s sister Teanne revealed that he was still in critical condition.
But she warned that her brother is still not out of the woods and has a challenging journey ahead of him.
Hospital visitors remain off-limits, apart from immediate family and close friends such as Mundine and Bulldogs winger Josh Addo-Carr.
“We have heard that Nathan is doing a little better, but he has a long road to recovery,” Teanne wrote on Facebook.
‘We would like to thank everyone, family and friends who came to visit Nathan and all the well wishes and kind words from everyone. “Thank you all for your continued love and support.”
It comes after the Rabbitohs finally broke their silence on Merritt’s situation, five days after he was rushed to hospital.
“Out of respect for the privacy of Nathan and the Merritt family, the Rabbitohs and Souths Cares have chosen not to comment on his situation at this time,” the club said in a statement.
“We are so pleased to hear directly from his immediate family that Merro’s condition is improving.
“He is being cared for by the best doctors and is in the thoughts of everyone associated with the Rabbitohs.
“It will be a slow recovery, but it is a battle he is in with all our support. Keep fighting hard with that South Sydney spirit, Merro! You’re always a Rabbitoh! #974′.
Merritt, who hung up his boots in 2014 after 237 first-grade appearances, is considered one of the greatest players in the club’s history.
Born and raised in Redfern, he began his journey in football as a junior player with the Alexandria Rovers in the South Sydney junior competition.
Following his retirement, the father of five has channeled his passion for the sport into a cause close to his heart, establishing the Nathan Merritt Foundation, which is committed to providing guidance and support to Indigenous youth in Sydney.
Lifeline 13 11 14; beyond blue 1300 22 4636; 13YARN 13 92 76; Aboriginal Advisory Services 0410 539 905