'Just can't believe it': Rugby league rocked by devastating double tragedy

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

The Griffith rugby league club has been rocked by a second tragedy this week.

The club announced on Thursday that 24-year-old player and coach Andrew Hoggart had died in a tragic accident during New Year’s Eve celebrations.

The horrible news comes just days after 19-year-old Bulldogs prospect Ziggie Vincent - who was also from Griffith - took his own life.

Hoggart had coached Vincent in Griffith in 2017.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of another one of our own,” the club posted on Facebook on Thursday.

“Andrew was a part of our Premiership winning First Grade team in 2017 and also coached our U18’s to their Premiership in the same year.

Ziggie Vincent and Andrew Hoggart. Image: Facebook

“He was admired by his players, team mates & the football Club. Our thoughts are with his Family & those close to him at this time.”

Club president Craig O'Keeffe told the Sydney Morning Herald of the community’s grief.

"It's flattened everyone, we just can't believe it's happened," he said. "My main priority is that everyone is okay."

The club said Hoggart died after falling from a balcony in South Bank, Brisbane.

"Everywhere I go people who don't even know me through footy say how terrible it is," O’Keefe said.

"Personally I'm handling it OK, but there's no textbook, so we've had to go to the professionals. This, to me, is right out of my league."

Vincent’s death rocks Anthony Mundine

Vincent was understood to be staying at the home of close friend CJ Mundine, the son of former NRL star Anthony, while in Sydney.

"The Bulldogs would like to express their deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Ziggie Vincent who tragically passed away yesterday," the Bulldogs said.

"Although Ziggy was only around the club for six weeks as a trialist for our Jersey Flegg side, he had made a great impression on all those that had met him and had made some close friends in and around the club.

"His passing has come as a major shock to everyone at the club and we offer our condolences and deepest sympathies to his family and friends."

Anthony, who played for St George, Brisbane and St George Illawarra between 1993-2000, spoke emotionally about Vincent's death on social media.

CJ was recently signed by South Sydney on a two-year deal.

"It's a very sad day, very sad. I'm a bit emotional here. We lost a brother, young Ziggie Vincent," Anthony said.

Anthony Mundine spoke of his devastation over Ziggie Vincent's death. Image: Facebook

"Took his life last night. It's very hard to take for myself but I can't imagine (what) his family and close friends, brothers and siblings (are going through)."

Anthony urged those struggling with mental health issues to talk to others.

"I let Zig know I was always there for him ... but a lot of these brothers feel like they're a burden. But they're actually not," he said.

"They're just shy and don't want to bring their problems on anyone else.

"To anyone that has any problems with mental health or are looking to harm themselves or are not in a good place, please speak up to somebody you trust, someone that sheds a good light in your life.

"That's the most important thing. Even hit me up if you have to. Hearing this news really affected me. I haven't left bed all day."

The loss of Vincent comes six years after the NRL community was also rocked by the death of Wests Tigers forward Moses Fotuaika.

North Queensland trio Alex Elisala, Francis Winterstein and Regan Grieve, and Melbourne's Hayden Butler also lost their battle with depression in recent years.

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with AAP