GRIEF HITS: Family, friends and players outside Ballina hospital after Zane Purcell died during the reserve grade rugby league game at Ballina on Sunday.
GRIEF HITS: Family, friends and players outside Ballina hospital after Zane Purcell died during the reserve grade rugby league game at Ballina on Sunday. The Northern Star

Magpies mourn loss of family man Zane Purcell

THE on-field death of Lower Clarence Magpies player Zane 'Harry' Purcell has shocked the Clarence Valley community.

The 29-year-old father of two was pronounced dead on arrival at Ballina Hospital after he collapsed following a head knock in an attempted tackle.

Lower Clarence Magpies first grade captain Ryan Binge who was a former team mate of Purcell said that it has been "bloody hard to deal with the loss of a mate".

"Zane was a great person," Binge said. "He was a real family man. He put all his family and friends and community before himself.

"Zane was one of Lower Clarence's favourite sons. He had been with the Magpies for a long time and had really gotten involved in helping the club and the community."

Binge said the community in the Lower Clarence region was struggling with the sad news of Purcell's passing.

"It is bloody hard," he said. "Everyone is full of shock and we have no idea how rugby league is going to go after this.

"The local community are all grieving together right now because he was such a good bloke and really well like around the Lower area.

"He was really good with all the young blokes and used to give them all lifts to training and to the game and really made sure they were enjoying playing rugby league.

"He was just such a good bloke."

The tributes for Purcell have flowed in the days since his death with the rugby league community coming together in mourning.

Lower Clarence Magpies president Steve Austine held a vigil with members of the Magpies community on Sunday night at Maclean Showground to allow the community to support each other in their time of grief.

Austine who was playing in the same team as Purcell at the time of his death said he only knew Purcell for a short time but that was long enough to know how good a bloke he was.

"He was a good bloke who always looked after those around him," he said. "Zane was always happy to do things for everyone.

"He was always putting his hand up as the designated driver to ensure his mates got home safely."

Austine made particular mention of Purcell's efforts in supporting the young kids of the Clarence Valley.

"He would pick up all the young guys who did not have a way to training or the games. He would be the one to make sure they got there," Austine said.

"He just started his own weed spraying business with a few of his mates and he was always giving young blokes a chance to work, a chance at a life."


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