The instincts of the Runanga Rugby League 9s coach could have saved the life of one of his players who collapsed during a game at Wingham Park on Saturday.

Brad Houston was walking back to halfway after his side scored a try against Cobden-Kohinoor when he dropped to the ground.

Coach James Ward ran on to the field and began to administer CPR when he realised Houston was not breathing.

West Coast Rugby League development officer Paddy Byrne was also on hand to help with the resuscitation.


"Brad was very lucky that Wardy reacted so quickly," Mr Byrne said today.

"Wardy was right on the spot when Brad collapsed. I was about 15m away and realised the situation was serious. I dropped everything and raced to help."

Byrne said everyone "chipped in" to help.

"There was a team of us. Wardy and I were performing CPR along with a team of other people. We were getting information over the phone from emergency services on how to perform CPR, which also helped."

St John and the fire service arrived and took over.

"We are so incredibly lucky to have such good emergency services in this community -- they were bloody marvellous."

Mr Byrne said it was a "very stressful" time for everyone involved, including Houston's parents and sister who were at the park to watch the games.

Mr Ward was the reluctant hero when the Greymouth Star spoke to him today, saying that most of what happened was "a blur".


"Things were looking pretty grim for a while and a lot of people played their part in helping Brad," Mr Ward said.

Mr Houston's wife, Lilly, today said he was "doing okay" in Christchurch Hospital.

"We won't know until after he gets the tests done later on today what actually happened but cardiac arrest is the official term until they investigate further," Mrs Houston said.

"Brad wants to make a big shout out to all his boys who cheered him on and never gave up," she said, singling out Mr Ward, Mr Byrne and the St John staff.

"At this stage we still don't know what caused it, tests have started and we hope to know more by the end of the day."

West Coast Rugby League president Peter Kerridge said he arrived at Wingham Park just as Mr Houston was being loaded into the ambulance.

"There was high anxiety among everyone. It sounds like he is a real lucky bloke and was lucky to have people like James Ward and Paddy Byrne, who are industry trained in CPR and first-aid - they did a great job."

- Greymouth Star