Knights hero has close call with death

NEWCASTLE Knights rugby league grand final hero Darren Albert had a brush with death after rupturing his spleen playing in the Byron Bay Rugby Sevens at the weekend.

Albert, who scored the match-winning try in the final seconds of the Knights' 1997 grand final win against Manly, injured himself representing the Inverell invitational team the Country King Browns in Byron Bay on Saturday.

He was treated by paramedics at the scene and then went to Byron Bay Hospital, where x-rays cleared him of suspected broken ribs.

But when he still didn't feel well he was taken by ambulance to Tweed Heads Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery and had two-and-half litres of blood reportedly drained from his stomach.

Byron Bay Rugby Sevens coordinator Stuart Mackell said he hadn't seen the incident, but heard a report that the tackle was 'slightly late' and may have resulted in a penalty.

“We had St John's ambulance people handle it straight away and paramedics came straight to the ground,” Mackell said.

“I saw the team a few a hours after it and didn't seem to be of much concern.

“They thought that he'd hurt his ribs.”

Albert was in a stable condition in Tweed Heads Hospital last night.

Meanwhile, the Newcastle Knights were unaware Albert had been injured until contacted by The Northern Star.

Apart from Albert's injury, Mackell said that the sevens tournament had remained relatively incident-free, with only one dislocated thumb and a broken collarbone.

“And as far as the football goes it was by far the strongest year ever,” he said.

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