‘An absolute gem’: Community reeling after sudden death
A Sunshine Coast rugby league player who died suddenly during a game has been described by many as 'an absolute gentle giant'.
Dale Best was playing for the Maroochydore Swans in a reserve grade trial against the Dolphins at the Kawana sports precinct when he collapsed on the field after making an effective tackle during the game.
Queensland Rugby League confirmed it had received a detailed report following the match, with witnesses confirming there was no evidence in the tackle of a head or neck injury, nor any report of foul play.
Sunshine Coast and Gympie Rugby League president Glenn Peatling said the 34-year-old's passing was tragic.
"(It's) something that's occurred that's pretty horrible out of the game we love," he said.
"An absolute gentle giant running around playing the game he loved has sadly collapsed and … he's passed away."
Mr Peatling said the organisation, together with the QRL, has been providing welfare support over the weekend to all involved.
"From a welfare point of view there's been a lot of work done … just to wrap an arm or an umbrella around everyone that's some way been involved or affected to ensure that they're understanding it and processing it as best they can," Mr Peatling said.
"And dealing with it in a way that they can move forward with not only their lives but still loving the game of rugby league."
Mr Peatling said he knew Mr Best personally and has been flooded with messages of support since the tragedy.
"I've had messages over the weekend from various clubs just (talking about) his competitive nature, (he was) hard to tackle but just fair," he said.
"Off the field (he was) always smiling, never a harsh word said, just absolute great fella to be around.
"That's where some of the players and people from club land are really struggling, he was just an absolute gem of a fella.
"I don't think you'll find anyone say a bad word about him whatsoever, it's just the type of character of the bloke that he was."
The Maroochydore Swans players and staff gathered at the club house on Sunday morning to support each other.
Mr Best had been a Maroochydore junior since under 9s and has been described as a 'clubman' through and through.
"The Best family have been involved in the Maroochydore club off and on over many years and I believe they still are here on the Coast," Mr Peatling said.
The Kawana Dolphins, who Mr Best had been playing on Saturday, have taken to social media to declare field one closed.
"Out of respect for Dale and his family, field one has been closed until further notice," the message read.
"Our entire club passes on its condolences to the Best family and friends as well as the Maroochydore Swans and the rugby league family as a whole."
Mr Peatling said the Best family has been receiving support from the Maroochydore Swans as well as the Queensland Rugby League.
"I haven't had the chance to reach out to them just yet, it's not the right time," he said.
"When the time is right we'll touch base and offer them as much support as we can locally as well.
"I have no doubt something will be done in the future to honour the big fella."