LEIGH Centurions’ head of rugby Derek Beaumont has pledged £2,000 to the family of Keighley player Danny Jones and has urged his counterparts at other clubs to do the same.
Tributes have poured in for Jones, who has died of a suspected cardiac arrest.
The goalkicking half-back, who enjoyed a 12-year career, was taken off just four minutes into his club’s League 1 game against London Skolars at the New River Stadium on Sunday afternoon after feeling unwell.
After collapsing at the side of the pitch, an air ambulance was called and Jones was taken by road to the Royal Free Hospital, where extensive efforts to resuscitate him failed. The match was abandoned shortly afterwards.
Jones, who was 29, leaves a wife, Liz, and five-month-old twins.
A club statement from Keighley said: “Danny was much loved and highly respected by all at the club and in rugby league.
“He was the life and soul in the dressing room, a natural leader, a true professional and irreplaceable. He achieved over 1,000 points and 150 appearances for Keighley Cougars and he will be sorely missed. We are devastated.
“Our hearts go out to Liz, his children and his family.”
On hearing the news, Leigh’s head of rugby Beaumont offered £2,000 towards the player’s funeral while asking other clubs to do the same.
Centurions player Ryan Brierley also offered his winning pay from Sunday’s victory at Dewsbury. On twitter, Brierley said: “Absoloutely devastated at the news. Thoughts are with Danny jones. Didn’t know him but by all accounts a top bloke, rest in peace brother.”
Jonathan Pownall tweeted: “Just want say awful news about a rugby league player. Tragic news. Prayers are with his family and friends.”
Leigh club captain Oliver Wilkes, a former Keighley player tweeted: “Heart goes out to Danny Jones’s family at this tragic and difficult time. Time for the rugby family to come together and help.”
Jones played for Keighley against Leigh in a friendly at the Sports Village in February which the home side won 86-0.
Jones also played for his home-town club Halifax and won 12 caps for Wales. He made his international debut against Italy in Wrexham in 2010 and his final Test was against Cook Islands in Neath in the 2013 World Cup.
Wales Rugby League chairman Brian Juliff said: “Everyone at Wales Rugby League is very shocked to hear of Danny’s sudden passing. Our condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues at this sad time.”
A Halifax spokesman said: “He was a larger than life character, as befits a half-back, and was universally respected throughout the game.
“He will be sadly missed. Halifax RLFC sends its condolences to Danny’s family and friends. They’ve lost a star.”