NRL great's grandson killed in freak league accident

Jake Kedzlie died following a freak accident playing for the Sawtell Panthers.
Jake Kedzlie died following a freak accident playing for the Sawtell Panthers.

Devastated rugby league great Tommy Raudonikis said his teenage grandson Jake Kedzlie had "the world ahead of him" before a freak accident during an under-16s game on Saturday claimed his life.

Kedzlie's family made the agonising decision to switch off his life support on Monday morning after he collapsed seconds after making a tackle playing for the Sawtell Panthers at Rex Hardaker Oval, Toormina.

"It's truly devastating. He was just a lovely young boy," Raudonikis told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Kedzlie was the son of Raudonikis's daughter, Corryn, and the rugby league great said he and his family were totally devastated by the news.

"We just can't understand it. He had the world ahead of him, and everybody loved him," said the former NSW and Australian halfback regarded one of the toughest men to play rugby league.

"It's unbelievable."

A Coffs Harbour Health Campus spokeswoman said the family decided on Monday to turn off the teenager's life support.

"The family have agreed to donate his organs," she said.

Kedzlie's friends and teammates posted tributes to the teen on Facebook, describing him as a talented young man and a "beautiful soul".

"Such a talented young man, I had the privilege to watch you play footy. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family xx", wrote Amanda Duggan.

Alex McNamara wrote that many at Toormina High School would be hurting.

"so many people at toormina high are going to be hurting because (our) friend isn't going to be at school today or forever ... your a great player Your beautiful soul will take me and others to the top ... You made so many people happy."

The Sawtell Panthers club also offered condolences to his family on their Facebook page.

"We have lost a great young player and more importantly a great mate to the Sawtell Panther family and community," the club posted.

Raudonikis, who battled back from many bad injuries during his career and also overcame cancer, said his grandson would have played NRL.

"I remember last year, we came down and watched him play," Raudonikis said.

"They were getting beaten 30-5 or something.

"Jake, just by sheer brilliance, won the game for them.

"When I walked away I said: 'This boy can play'."

-AAP

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