Titmuss training session declared ‘more likely than not inappropriate’ as coroner details NRL recommendations


The coroner in the inquest into the death of former Manly player Keith Titmuss has declared that the training conditions on the day he died were “more likely than not inappropriate”.

Deputy State Coroner Derek Lee said that the conditions surrounding the training session put Titmuss “at greater risk of heat illness” in a “very hot, very humid” gym.

Titmuss, who was 20, collapsed after a field session followed by a wrestling session at the Sea Eagles Narrabeen HQ in November 2020 with parademics recording his body temperature at just shy of 42 degrees Celsius. He later died at Royal North Shore Hospital of a cardiac arrest.

Lee said that those on the scene, including Manly players and staff, would have been unable to help the player once he had collapsed.

“There is no evidence to suggest anything more could have been done by those immediately present,” he said, adding that ice packs “would not have resulted in any significant reduction in Keith’s temperature”.

Lee made a series of recommendations to the NRL around heat, including that they institute a two-week return to play acclimatisation system for players after the off-season and that they change training plans as required because of temperatures.

He also suggested that a medical professional sign off on strength and conditioning plans and that heat illness education be more widespread.

Titmuss was deemed the least fit player at Manly when he collapsed, having returned to training 5kgs overweight, and Lee also asked for a screening process for those deemed high risk.

The NRL is already conducting an independent review of heat policies around training.

“This can’t happen again in the game, we all understand that,” said Manly CEO Tony Mestrov. “And we don’t want it to happen under Manly’s watch ever again.

“We want to make sure we’re thinking of them today and how tough that was. Obviously, we’ve willingly participated in this inquiry and inquest. His Honour has handed down the findings today and we intend to take the recommendations up.”

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