Rugby league player was 'star' of family

Greta Stonehouse

A talented young NSW rugby league player who collapsed and died at a Wollongong field on the weekend was a "star" in his family's eyes, his sister says.

Tory Brunning, 22, played for the Dapto Canaries at the Dapto Showground on Saturday afternoon but then complained of flu-like symptoms.

The promising young player was due to back-up for the first-grade clash later in the day but was withdrawn after his condition worsened, Illawarra District Rugby League general manager Chris Bannerman said in a statement.

Mr Brunnings was found collapsed in the dressing shed where paramedics worked to revive him, but he died at the scene.

"Baby Brother, He was much Loved," Kourtney Waitarehu posted on social media on Sunday.

"A star in our eyes and taken in a blink."

Tributes have flowed on social media as the rugby league community remember the former Illawarra Sports High school student.

"A champion on and off the field was my pleasure to have played with you on that field as you grew from a young boy to a man deepest thoughts to your friends family and the Illawarra rugby league," Rhys from Toowoomba posted on the Illawarra Mercury.

Mr Bannerman said it was a tragedy no family should have to go through.

"It appears to be a terrible tragedy and we extend our sympathies to his family and friends, and everyone who was involved ... at the venue," Mr Bannerman said in a statement on Facebook.

The New Zealand native moved to Sydney as a teenager to pursue a promising career in rugby league.