South Sydney Rabbitohs star Nathan Merritt’s family gives update on his condition after he was left fighting for life in hospital

  • Nathan Merritt family gives positive health update 
  • NRL great on life support after found unresponsive
  • Hospital visits restricted to family 

Nathan Merritt’s family has issued an update after the former NRL star’s condition ‘slightly’ improved.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs legend, 40, was rushed to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney’s inner west and placed on life support last Friday after being found unresponsive.

The father-of-five is believed to have had an adverse reaction to consuming prescribed pain medication and collapsed at his aunt’s house, where he was staying.

Merritt’s sister Teanne provided an promising update on Tuesday, two days after she revealed his condition was still critical.

But she warned her brother still isn’t out of the woods yet and has a challenging journey ahead of him.

Hospital visitors, apart from immediate family, remain off-limits.

‘We have been advised that Nathan is improving slightly but has a long road to recovery,’ Teanne posted on Facebook.

Nathan Merritt’s condition has ‘slightly’ improved after he was rushed to hospital last Friday

‘We thank everyone, family and friends that have come up to visit Nathan and all the well wishes and kind words from all.

‘At present, only immediate family are able to visit Nathan. Thank you all for your ongoing love and support.’

It comes after family acquaintances told News Corp on Monday that Merritt’s lung capacity had improved over the past 24 hours and that internal swelling had decreased.

‘Nathan is still serious and he’s not out of the woods but there is a slight improvement,’ one friend said.

‘There are some encouraging signs, which are good. His lung capacity has increased.

‘Hopefully he can get a little bit better every day. It’s a slow process.’

Merritt has been regularly visited by Canterbury Bulldogs and NSW Blues star Josh Addo-Carr, as well as former St George five-eighth and boxing champion Anthony Mundine. 

Mundine claimed that the combination of pneumonia and playing football at the Koori Knockout may have contributed to Merritt’s collapse.  

‘He didn’t know he had pneumonia,’ Mundine said. ‘He kept asking for his puffer every 10 minutes because he was finding it hard to breathe from the Pneumonia.’

Teanne Merritt warned her brother Nathan (pictured playing for South Sydney) still has a long road to recovery aherad of him

Teanne Merritt warned her brother Nathan (pictured playing for South Sydney) still has a long road to recovery aherad of him

There is no evidence to suggest Merritt sustained a concussion at the footy tournament. 

Merritt, who hung up his boots in 2014 after 237 games, is considered one of the greatest players in Rabbitohs history.

Born and raised in Redfern, he started his journey in football as a junior player with the Alexandria Rovers in the South Sydney junior competition.

After his retirement, he channelled his passion for the sport into a cause close to his heart, establishing the Nathan Merritt Foundation dedicated to offering guidance and support to Indigenous youth in Sydney.

‘Nathan is in the thoughts and prayers of every Rabbitoh at the moment,’ South Sydney CEO Blake Solly said on Saturday morning. 

Merritt is regarded as one of the greatest players in Souths' long history

Merritt is regarded as one of the greatest players in Souths’ long history

The incident comes after Merritt pleaded guilty to common assault after repeatedly punching a pub security guard who was trying to help him get home after a drinking session in December 2022.

His lawyer told the Burwood Local Court it was ‘pure luck’ nobody was seriously injured in the assault and revealed Merritt – who the court was told suffered depression after retiring from football – was so intoxicated he only has vague memories of the attack.

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