Mourning family, Manly players farewell ‘inspiration'
They gathered to cry, mourn and remember. Family, friends and teammates sharing the immeasurable grief from losing their hero - Manly rugby league star Keith Titmuss.
Titmuss, just 20, was laid to rest on Wednesday at the EFKS Mount Druitt Church, Emerton, after passing away last Monday following a Sea Eagles training session.
Through the tears, they celebrated a short life full of success and dreams.
Just last week, Titmuss' mum, Lafo, said: "You should never have to bury your son."
With a heavy heart and unfathomable sadness, that is what Lafo did on Wednesday, along with husband Paul, son Jesse and daughter, Zara.
Manly coach Des Hasler, club owners Rick and Scott Penn, chief executive Stephen Humphreys, club education and wellbeing officer Matt Ballin, recruitment manager Scott Fulton along with players Daly Cherry-Evans, Marty Taupau, Brad Parker, Reuben Garrick, Lachlan Croker, Josh Schuster, Morgan Boyle, Ben Trbojevic and Jake Trbojevic were among the 250 mourners, as was NRL head of football, Graham Annesley.
Titmuss' coffin was covered by his beloved Manly jumper, emblazoned with his official club number, 623.
Photos of Titmuss and Manly designed flower arrangements were spread through the church for the 75-minute service. There was also a video montage of his burgeoning rugby league career.
"From the moment Keith was born, we could tell our baby was special. He was a determined individual. I have seen him be laser focused on a goal and then set his mind to achieving whatever it was," Lafo said.
"Keith was a down-to-earth type of fella. You could call him a no-frills type of guy. He was self-assured and full of confidence. He didn't like being the centre of attention, preferring to gain a reputation based on his actions on the field.
"To Keithy's circle of friends, I say chin up, back straight, be strong. Be sad, but only for a little while. Pursue your dreams and live your best life and remember 623."
There was a minute's meditation through the traditional Samoan service and a photographic tribute to Titmuss accompanied by a cover version of Cold Chisel's When The War is Over.
Friends performed an impromptu Haka for Titmuss after the service.
"Keith was my little brother, man, he made me so proud, I looked up to him as an older brother" said Jesse. "He meant so much to me. He was my inspiration, my idol. He was such a blessing on our lives. Our house is going to be so quiet now.
"Growing up with Keith was awesome. We grew up playing footy, Keith was four-years-old, I was five or six. We bonded over footy. Keith loved his mates, they meant so much to him.
"His life was cut short to 20 years but he had big plans, big dreams and aspirations and I am so grateful to the club for granting that Manly Sea Eagles number (623) to him. I'm going to forever miss him. I hope he rests easy."
A viewing of the body for close friends was held at the Titmuss' family home in western Sydney on Wednesday afternoon.
Titmuss fell ill after training last Monday at Manly's Narrabeen headquarters and later died in Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards.
New Zealand coach Michael Maguire appeared at the funeral through a video message, saying: "Keith showed a fond passion to play for the Kiwis. He had an opportunity to pay for the Australian Schoolboys but knocked it back because he always wanted to play for the Kiwis."
The wake was held at Club Marconi. The cause of death is yet to be determined by the Coroner.
Originally published as Heart broken family, Manly players farewell 'inspiration and idol'