The rugby league community is mourning the death of Queensland Cup flyer Michael Purcell, who died in a car crash on Sunday morning, aged 28.
Known as ‘Purcey’ or, more famously, ‘The Kangaroo Catcher’ due to stories of him beating a kangaroo in a race, Purcell was a livewire outside back who had flirted with an NRL opportunity earlier this year, when he was given a train and trial contract with the Melbourne Storm and played a trial match for them in Albury.
He scored tries for fun in Q-Cup for both Ipswich Jets and Brisbane Tigers, quickly becoming a fan favourite.
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“It is with a heavy heart and much sadness that we have to announce that the Savige Pest Control Ipswich Jets today lost one of their own, with the passing of Jet 568, The Kangaroo Catcher, Michael Purcell,” the club said.
“We will put out a more detailed statement in the next few days, but wanted to pass on our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends at this most difficult of times. A much loved Jet who will be greatly missed.
“Once a Jet, always a Jet.”
Current NRL player James Roberts and Broncos legend Steve Renouf were among those who paid tribute to Purcell in the aftermath.
“Melbourne Storm is saddened to hear of Michael’s tragic passing at the weekend,” the Storm said in a statement.
“He was a very welcome and engaged participant in our pre-season last year, highlighted by pulling on the purple jersey in our trial game in Albury.
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“We will remember him as a very likeable young man, who fitted in very quickly with our group on and off the training field.
“Our thoughts go to his family and friends, and his past and current teammates.”
“We are extremely saddened to hear of the passing of former Brisbane Tigers player Michael Purcell also known as the Kangaroo Catcher,” his former Q-Cup team wrote.
“Purcey, 28-years young was Tigers player No.1344 and played nine games for the Tigers across the 2020 and 2021 seasons before being a part of Bulimba Bulldogs BRL Premier Grade squad in 2022.
“Thoughts and prayers are with Purcey’s family, friends, those he played with at the Tigers, Bulimba Bulldogs, Brothers, Ipswich Jets and the wider rugby league community.”
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