UPDATE: 2.45pm Tuesday May 12: RACHAEL Purcell always knew playing rugby league with an enlarged heart was a risk for her husband Zane.
But she never expected to get the awful phone call on Sunday, her first mothers day since the birth of the couple's first child, saying her husband had collapsed and died in a game at Ballina.
"It was hard," Mrs Purcell told seven news while still struggling to come to terms with her loss.
"He lived and breathed (footy)."
"You go into the sport knowing that there might be something that's going to happen. Could be anything," his wife said.
The popular Lower Clarence Magpies forward collapsed following a head clash during a reserve grade game against the Ballina Seagulls.
It is not known whether the head clash contributed to his injury.
A man-mountain, Mr Purcell lived and breathed rugby league and even set up a try in his last match.
The Kingsford Smith Park scoreboard still remains frozen at the moment when Mr Purcell collapsed.
Despite his passion for rugby league, the loves of Zane Purcell's life were his wife and seven-month-old daughter Bonnie.
But now he will never see his daughter grow up.
The Purcell family said they expect to an autopsy to confirm Zane died as a result of his enlarged heart and irregular heartbeat.
The family were told by doctors Mr Purcell's injury was so catastrophic, even if he was in an emergency department surrounded by doctors he wouldn't have been saved.
A 29-YEAR-OLD man has died after being stretchered from the Kingsford Smith Park in Ballina after he collapsed during a reserve grade Rugby League game.
Lower Clarence Magpies player Zane Purcell passed away after going down from a knock to the head during a tackle early in the reserve-grade match against Ballina Seagulls yesterday afternoon.
Witnesses have stated that following the head knock Purcell remained motionless on the field while he was attended to by the Ballina Seagulls club doctor and a Seagulls reserve grade player who was an off-duty paramedic.
Local paramedics arrived on scene soon after to rush the player to the nearby Ballina Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
New South Wales police have said a report will be prepared for the coroner following the death of Mr Purcell.
In a statement released on the incident NSW Country Rugby League have sent their condolences to people close to the rugby league player.
"Country Rugby League send their condolences to the family and friends of 29-year-old Zane Purcell who tragically passed away while playing for The Lower Clarence Reserve Grade Rugby League Club on Sunday afternoon," a CRL spokesman said.
"Country Rugby League is providing counselling to the family and both teams who participated in yesterday's match."
The long-time player with Lower Clarence Magpies based in Maclean, was not revived before he was taken from the field.
The remainder of the reserve grade game and the first grade game were cancelled as a sign of respect. The players from both teams were understood to be t
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