Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Former Silver Fern Tania Dalton critically ill after collapsing at touch rugby

Former New Zealand Silver Fern netballer Tania Dalton picture in 2011. Photo/ Paul Estcourt
Former New Zealand Silver Fern netballer Tania Dalton picture in 2011. Photo/ Paul Estcourt

She was a fighter on the netball court, and now former Silver Ferns star Tania Dalton is in the fight of her life.

Dalton, 45, is in a critical condition in Auckland Hospital, with her family at her side, after collapsing while playing a social game of touch rugby on Thursday night, suffering a ruptured internal carotid artery aneurism.

A spokeswoman for the hospital last night said her condition had worsened from yesterday morning when she was in a stable condition.

Family, friends and the netball community are devastated, and wishing the married mum of three well.

Her husband Duane told the Herald on Sunday that it was "every husband and father's worst nightmare".

"All I can say is that Tarns is once again showing us what an incredible battler she is and, right now, she is putting up the fight of her life.

"We couldn't be prouder of her or love her more."

Duane and Tania Dalton pictured ringside at the Battle for the Belt match between Sonny Bill Williams and Clarence Tillman III in Hamilton in 2012. File photo / Sandra Mu /Getty Images
Duane and Tania Dalton pictured ringside at the Battle for the Belt match between Sonny Bill Williams and Clarence Tillman III in Hamilton in 2012. File photo / Sandra Mu /Getty Images

The family said there had been an amazing outpouring of love and support, which they appreciated. They asked for space to focus on caring for Dalton.

Former Silver Ferns coach Yvonne Willering said the news "came as a complete shock. I'm looking for positive outcomes. I think this is a time for family and people like us, all we can do is care and show support."

Dalton was treated on the field at Northcote's Onewa Domain, bleeding profusely from the mouth and nose.

Her injuries did not come from any impact during the game - she was running when she collapsed.

She starred for the Silver Ferns during 37 tests, playing at goal shoot and goal attack from 1996-2007, but missed the 2005 campaign through injury.

Dalton is now a Sky TV commentator, and has been involved with the Takapuna Rugby Football Club, where her children play, for several years and plays in a social touch rugby team on Thursdays.

Club chairman Simon Cheesmansaid Dalton was playing for her Pita Pit team when she suffered a "medical emergency".

He wasn't at the grounds, but was told no impact was involved. "She was just on her own, she was running."

Duane Dalton, a Pita Pit NZ director, was called to the ground, Cheesman said.

New Zealand's Tania Dalton in action against Australia in Christchurch in 2006. File photo / Simon Baker
New Zealand's Tania Dalton in action against Australia in Christchurch in 2006. File photo / Simon Baker

He said "everyone helped" after Dalton's collapse, including a medical student playing on another team.

"The games were all stopped."

He had been told that Dalton was seriously ill.

"Obviously we are extremely concerned ... I know her very well. She's a neat mum and a lovely person."

Dalton was part of the 2003 Netball World Championship-winning side in Kingston, Jamaica and was part of the team that finished runners-up at Christchurch in 1999.

She was also in the 2002 Southern Sting squad which claimed the national title.

Dalton retired from international netball in 2007 to concentrate on family, but was persuaded to make brief comebacks in elite trans-Tasman tournament, the ANZ Championship, in 2008 and 2011 playing for the Southern Steel.

Tania Dalton collapsed while playing touch rugby at Onewa Domain, in Takapuna. Photo / Google Maps
Tania Dalton collapsed while playing touch rugby at Onewa Domain, in Takapuna. Photo / Google Maps

Willering described Takapuna-born and raised Dalton, who retired from netball in 2011 to concentrate on her family, as a "loyal North Shore girl", even when she was playing for teams outside the city.

"Her heart was still with the Shore. I loved that about her. She's just a wonderful person and very positive. I just want to carry that on, and she would want us to be positive too."

As well as raising her family, Dalton has given her time to community volunteer work, including judging local sports awards.

She has also carved out a successful business career as part-owner in Pita Pit, a popular healthy food franchise.

Since her playing career ended, Dalton has become a regular on TV screens as a well-regarded commentator on the trans-Tasman netball championship.

SKY TV spokeswoman Kirsty Way said the company was aware of Dalton's medical emergency.

"All of her Sky crew are wishing her all the best for a quick recovery."

- Herald on Sunday

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 29 Apr 2017 06:46:34 Processing Time: 703ms