‘A gifted RL player, a beautiful kid’

Lui Polimeni
Lui Polimeni

An immense sadness has enveloped the Jugiong and wider Gundagai communities, together with the rugby league fraternity, following the death of popular Gundagai under 16s player Lui Polimeni, who on Wednesday afternoon had his life support system turned off at Canberra Hospital.

The Jugiong teen suffered a critical injury at Anzac Park last Sunday. He collapsed on the field in the Sullivan Cup clash against Tumut following a tackle and was immediately rendered assistance by club trainers and Gundagai paramedics before being airlifted to Canberra Hospital.

Lui was subsequently placed in an induced coma as his family kept a vigil at his bedside. On Wednesday, the Gundagai Tigers Rugby League Club posted on its Facebook page that Lui “fought a great battle but was unable to recover”.

“After deep consideration, Lui’s life support system will be switched off today after he suffered massive stroke symptoms,” the post read.

Lui, who attended Murrumburrah High, was this week remembered as a talented sportsman who excelled in a range of sports, from soccer to rugby league.

He had come to the Tigers this season together with younger brother Joey, with the two having previously played their junior football in Harden.

“He was a terrific young footballer, but more importantly he was a beautiful kid,” Gundagai Tigers secretary Martin Hay said.

“It’s just devastating for his family and the club.”

Lui was described as a gifted footballer, a natural athlete with speed, skill and copybook defence.

He had quickly earned the respect of his young team-mates and was regarded as one of his team’s brightest stars.

Off the field, he was among the first to offer his assistance, exemplified recently when he raised some $1300 for the club in just two days via a raffle the Tigers were conducting.

“He was a super kid,” Mr Hay said.

“We were struggling to sell the final tickets in the raffle and he came and grabbed a book, and just a couple of days later had sold 13 tickets at $100 each.”

The club thanked those who had treated Lui following Sunday’s incident, including the club trainers and medical staff who attended to him at the ground and at Canberra Hospital.

“The neurosurgeon told us it was a one in a million occurrence,” Mr Hay said. “It was just a freak accident.”

And Mr Hay made it clear that neither the club nor the Polimeni family felt any animosity towards the Tumut player involved in the tackle.

“The young fellah from Tumut can walk around with his head raised high,” Mr Hay said. “We want to see him continue playing football.

“There was no malice in the tackle – it was a total accident.”

Country Rugby League CEO Terry Quinn offered his deepest sympathies on behalf of the CRL to everyone affected by the loss.

“This is a truly tragic event that has broken the heart of the rugby league family and we need to band together for everyone in this time of grief,” Mr Quinn said.

Students at Murrumburrah High, as well as Gundagai and Tumut players have been offered counseling.

Lui is survived by parents Gino and Jenny and brother Joey.

Lui’s family asked the following be stated:

“Lui loved his footy. Lui loved the Tigers. Lui loved his mates and his team mates. Lui gave his best every time he played.”

 

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