Messages of support, relief and excitement are flooding across the rugby league world after news that South Sydney legend Nathan Merritt has woken from his coma. The Rabbitohs great has been fighting for his life after being admitted to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney's inner west after being found unresponsive at his auntie's house last Saturday.
It's understood the NRL great had an adverse reaction to consuming prescribed pain medication and collapsed, before being taken to hospital in critical condition. Merritt's sister had revealed on social media earlier in the week that the 40-year-old's condition was improving and on Friday the Rabbitohs confirmed that he had woken up from the coma and was surrounded by family in hospital.
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"Fantastic news tonight!" The Rabbitohs posted on social media. "The Merritt family has updated us that Nath is now awake with his immediate family by his side.
"He remains in hospital receiving brilliant care from his doctors and nurses. Keep that recovery going, Merro! We are all behind you!"
The news was met with an outpouring of support on social media, as the rugby league world wished the former South Sydney flyer a speedy recovery. Fans from South Sydney's fierce rivals, the Sydney Roosters, were among those to celebrate the update on Merritt's health as the 40-year-old continues his recovery.
Fantastic news tonight! The Merritt family has updated us that Nath is now awake with his immediate family by his side. He remains in hospital receiving brilliant care from his doctors and nurses. Keep that recovery going, Merro! We are all behind you! ❤️💚 pic.twitter.com/AfEzfaRTIz
— South Sydney Rabbitohs 🐰 (@SSFCRABBITOHS) October 13, 2023
Rivalry aside…All of us Roosters fans were wishing Nathan all the best and for him to come through this.
Such good news. 👍
— Duke25 (@Duke2517) October 13, 2023
This is the news I’ve been praying for. Thanks @SSFCRABBITOHS hopefully he continues to improve. Keep up the fight Nathan.
— Val (@Val18074295) October 13, 2023
So good to hear, wishing Nathan a speedy recovery and good health
— Rabbitoh Robert (@RabbitohRobert) October 13, 2023
An update on Nathan Merritt via News Corp.
He has WOKEN UP from his coma this afternoon and spoken to his father.
Such a great outcome ❤️💚
— The League Scene (@LeagueScenePod) October 13, 2023
Great news, Nathan Merritt is awake! Keep improving Merro ❤️💚 pic.twitter.com/3Lz3Ra5eMW
— Bunnies TV (@Bunniestvau) October 13, 2023
Community rallied around Nathan Merritt
It was initially reported by News Corp on Sunday that Merritt's organs had been impacted, but on Monday it emerged that his lung capacity had increased and internal swelling had decreased. Merritt's sister Teanne thanked the league and wider community for their outpouring of love and support.
“On behalf of Nathan and our family, we would like to thank everyone for your well wishes and prayers," she wrote. Canterbury Bulldogs winger Josh Addo-Carr and former St George five-eighth and boxing champion Anthony Mundine were among those to visit Merritt in hospital.
Merritt is one of South Sydney's most popular players of all time and retired as the club's most prolific try-scorer with 146 tries in 218 matches from 2002 to 2014. He also played one year for Cronulla in 2004 before returning to Souths. His 218 appearances is fourth on the all-time list for the Rabbitohs.
Merritt grew up in public housing in Redfern and made his NRL debut for the Rabbitohs as an 18-year-old in 2002, the season the club was reinstated into the NRL. Even through a period of poor results, Merritt was a fan favourite for his habit of finding the tryline. He was eventually overtaken by successor Alex Johnston, who holds the try-scoring record for South Sydney with 187 four-pointers.
The NRL legend also made one appearance for NSW in the 2013 State of Origin series, played two games for the Australian Prime Minister's XIII and made two appearances for the City Origin team. He also represented the NRL Indigenous All Stars three times.
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