Samoan rugby league player dies at 20

Lance Polu

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Alex Elisala

Alex Elisala

New Zealand-born rugby league player Alex Elisala has died in an Australian hospital, just days after playing his first test match for Samoa.

The 20-year-old was on life support in the Mackay Base Hospital in Queensland but it was switched off yesterday afternoon.

His NRL club, the North Queensland Cowboys, released the news last night. “He was undoubtedly one of the brightest young talents at the Cowboys,” said chief executive Peter Jourdain.

“Alex was extremely well liked by everyone at the club and his jovial but dedicated presence in and away from football will be deeply missed by all. Our thoughts and prayers are with Alex’s family and his friends.”

Elisala joined the club four years ago and excelled in his first year as a full-time member of the NRL squad.

Elisala went to school in Australia but returned to NZ for a season in 2010 with the Junior Kiwis. He played in Sydney for Toa Samoa when they lost 4-36 to Tonga last weekend. He played 69 games in the Toyota Cup under-20s competition and played for Queensland in the under-20s State of Origin game last year.

Mr Jourdain did not disclose how Elisala came to be admitted to hospital, but appealed to reporters to respect the privacy of his family and friends.