Queensland Cup grand final captain Mitchell Cronin has been remembered as a talented but humble leader following his shock death at home in Brisbane on Friday.
The 27-year-old spent time with both the Broncos and Canberra without making his NRL debut, before piloting Wynnum Manly to the Queensland Cup final last year.
The Seagulls hooker, who also worked as a teacher aide, was one of the Queensland Cup’s standouts in a distinguished 105-game career and hadn’t given up on his NRL dream.
Cronin had reportedly just completed a weights session before deciding to cool down in the pool, where he was later reportedly found by members of his family.
An autopsy will be completed, with Cronin reportedly suffering a suspected heart attack.
QRL competitions manager Dave Maiden said Cronin was an outstanding person and leader who inspired those around him.
“Mitchell was a fantastic leader of men and a quality player,” Maiden said.
“More importantly though, he was a quality human being who will be mourned by many and missed by all.
“The people who came across him will be in state of disbelief … he’s one of the good ones.”
Seagulls’ chief executive Hanan Laban described him as a quiet achiever who was fearless on the field, yet humble and modest.
“We are devastated by the passing of our captain Mitch Cronin and we send out love to Chris, Andrea, Ben, Amy and the Cronin family,” Laban said.
“Mitch was an exceptional young man who was loved and respected by his teammates, his coaching staff, our supporters and the wider rugby league community.
“From the moment he arrived at Wynnum he embodied the values of the Seagulls through his positive attitude, strong work ethic, and deep care for his teammates and his club.”
Former Raiders teammate Jordan Rapana was among the many players to post tributes on social media.
“Man I still don’t want to believe it,” he wrote.
“You got me through some of the toughest times of my life! I love you my brother, fly high you absolute legend, love you forever brother! Okioki teina… QUEENSLANDER!!!!”