Rising league player dies from infection caused by flu

Former New Zealand Secondary School rugby league representative Zae Wallace has died from a serious infection after catching the flu.

The talented 20-year-old footballer was taken to Auckland City Hospital earlier this year where he was placed on a ventilator and an ECMO machine.

New Zealand Rugby League has passed on their condolences to the Wallace family and their friends, calling him a "young talent that will be sorely missed".

Wallace, who died on Saturday, recently returned to Auckland following a stint with the Gold Coast Titans under-20 side.

He had been in an induced coma for four weeks.

Wallace played rugby league for New Zealand Secondary Schools and under-18s, and in 2017 penned a contact to play with the Gold Coast Titans under-20 side.

"Wallace spent that season with the Titans then joined the Burleigh Bears in the Intrust Super Cup," the NZRL said in a statement.

"Playing at halfback and being the youngest member of the squad, Wallace was one of the Akarana Falcons star performers in their National Premiership championship victory in 2016.

"That same year he was named Auckland Rugby League's College Player of the Year.

"Wallace is described as a 'lovely and cheeky' young man, who had a great sense of humour and a great bunch of friends."

Wallace won selection after a standout season with the Mt Albert Lions in Auckland's Fox Premier Rugby League Competition.

A Givealittle created to support Wallace and his family last month has raised over $30,000 since its creation on May 1.

However, in an update yesterday the page said he had died surrounded by friends and family.

"Zae's fight is over and he has slipped away peacefully from us all today," it reads.

"Zae's family and close friends have been humbled by your support and love, and blessed with the realization he has touched so many lives in his to short time with us.

"The last weeks have been a terrible time for us all, but you have all made it just a little bit easier."

The page said Wallace's health deteriorated after he became ill with influenza, which led to pneumonia and then the infection.


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