Home Australia NRL player Keith Titmuss died after ‘inappropriate’ training session, coroner says

NRL player Keith Titmuss died after ‘inappropriate’ training session, coroner says

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Lafo Titmuss (left) and Paul Titmuss, parents of Keith Titmuss, speak to the media at the New South Wales coroner's court.

A young Manly Sea Eagles player died after taking part in a training session that was “probably inappropriate”, the magistrate who oversaw the inquest into the death says.

Keith Titmuss had participated in a two-hour training session on November 23, 2020, when he became agitated and suffered several seizures.

He was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital, where he went into cardiac arrest.

At an investigation earlier this year, paramedics checked the 20-year-old’s body temperature three times after he collapsed during training because they couldn’t believe it had reached almost 42 degrees Celsius.

Titmuss died from exertional heat stroke (EHS), the inquest heard.

Deputy State Coroner Derek Lee concluded today that the training session was “more likely than not inappropriate,” given a variety of factors including the hot and humid conditions during the indoor portion of the session.

According to the investigation, Mr. Titmuss was comparatively at the lowest level of physical fitness in the group of players.

At least since late 2023, when Manly became aware of the correlation between EHS and Mr Titmuss’ death, the club and the NRL have taken steps to improve player welfare.

A review of the NRL’s heating policy is also underway.

Justice Lee recommended that the review consider several changes, including requiring a 14-day period of controlled acclimatization to training load after an offseason or extended layoff for players.

It should also consider screening and classifying players for EHS risks, mandatory reporting of each EHS incident and identifying what cooling strategies should be implemented for outdoor and indoor training sessions, it said.

Magistrate Lee also recommended Manly make improvements to its record-keeping policies.

Titmuss remembered as a family man

Mr. Titmuss was remembered by family and friends as kind, gentle, respectful and modest.

Lafo Titmuss (left) thanked the deputy state coroner for his work.(AAP: Bianca De Marchi)

He was known to be “a family man” and a larrikin.

Outside court, his mother, Lafo Titmuss, said it had taken years to understand the cause of death and thanked the state’s deputy coroner for his work.

He said he hoped the recommendations would lead to an emphasis on the NRL’s heat policy and an understanding that the impact of heat should not be underestimated.

“Keith loved life and he loved rugby league. He just got the job done,” he said.

“He had so much faith in himself and was keen to make a mark on the rugby league world.”

“This can’t happen again”

Close-up of Manly Warringah Sea Eagles chief executive Tony Mestrov speaking to the media

Manly chief executive Tony Mestrov says the club will implement all recommendations.(AAP: Bianca De Marchi)

Manly boss Tony Mestrov said it had been an incredibly difficult period for everyone, but especially the family.

He said the club intends to follow the recommendations.

“This can’t happen again in the game, we all understand that,” he said.

“And we don’t want this to happen again under Manly’s watch.”

Aware , updated

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