Bali drink killed WA rugby player

An autopsy on a prominent Perth rugby player who died in Bali has revealed he was killed by methanol poisoning.

The finding by the coroner at Bali's Sanglah Hospital prompted Michael Denton's friends and family to warn anyone planning a trip to Bali to avoid drinking cocktails, especially if they contained a distilled local alcohol called arak.

Mr Denton's brother Paul and friends Richard Naylor, Trent Gainey and Mark Badham said yesterday they were concerned about school leavers who were already in Bali and could have unknowingly consumed methanol.

Just 10ml is enough to make a person blind and any more than 100ml is almost always fatal.

"This is not an anti-Bali message," Mr Gainey said.

"It's being aware of the risks associated with Bali being a Third World country.

"We still frequent the place as a holiday destination and this is one of the risks associated with travelling to those areas."

Paul Denton said: "We want to warn people travelling to Bali about these drinks. We have heard of past cases of this happening and we want people to be aware of what can happen, so nobody has to go through what we have gone through.

"It's about warning the public, not about Mike. We know we can't get Mike back."

Mr Denton died at Sanglah Hospital about 11pm on September 23, three days after Sydney nurse Jamie Johnston suffered brain damage and kidney failure after drinking a methanol-laced jug of arak at the Happy Cafe restaurant on Lombok.

At least four foreigners were among the 25 people who died from methanol poisoning during a two-week period in Bali and Lombok in 2009, while more than 50 others required hospital treatment.

Authorities blamed rogue producers in small factories which had sprung up when the Government cracked down on the illegal importation of alcohol from overseas.

Mr Denton, the fly-half for Nedlands Rugby Union Football Club's premier grade team and a Western Force A-side representative, was in Bali with teammates and was due to play in an international rugby tournament on September 24.

The 29-year-old had been drinking at the hotel during the afternoon, but his friends said he would have had no more than a few drinks around the pool because the bus was due to pick them up at 7am the next day.

Mr Gainey said Mr Denton did not drink any more than his teammates, some of whom had also been drinking a cocktail called Jungle Juice, which contained arak.

About 10pm, Mr Denton had complained of feeling ill and his friends escorted him to his room.

When they went back to check on him, less than an hour later, he was unconscious, Mr Gainey said.

Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at Sanglah Hospital.

University of WA professor of medicine and pharmacology David Joyce said yesterday methanol was used only for industrial purposes in Australia.

"Methanol is a very potent poison and it only takes the equivalent of one standard drink to blind you and not much more to kill you," he said.

"In Australia it was even removed from methylated spirits a generation ago.

"It interferes with the way the body can use oxygen to support itself.

"The early events, beyond simple drunkenness, are that people can become very confused and they undergo a cardiovascular collapse. Blood pressure falls and their brain stops functioning and at that stage they are very difficult to retrieve. There are treatments but they have to be instituted very early."