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Manly Sea Eagles doctor pleaded with Des Hasler to use heat stress monitor

He also said he had no knowledge of the Kestrel device ever being used by sports science staff during a training session while he was Sea Eagles coach.

The court has been told Titmuss suffered a seizure inside the club’s dojo after the first official pre-season training session in 2020. Titmuss was rushed to hospital where he later suffered a cardiac arrest.

Former Manly prospect Keith Titmuss.Credit: NRL Photos

The maximum temperature at nearby Terrey Hills didn’t reach 25 degrees on the day, but teammates provided evidence the dojo was “humid and stuffy”.

Hasler was asked about the intensity of the session, which the court heard found Titmuss covered 6.7km, according to GPS data from the club.

Casselden said Titmuss’ risk factor to exertional heatstroke was higher given he was the least aerobic member of the Manly squad on the club’s yo-yo test three days earlier and had a body mass index above 35.

Hasler agreed parts of the 139-minute field session before Titmuss died were “challenging”, but stressed Titmuss’ 47 metres per minute covered suggested there was ample time for recovery as well as drinks breaks.

Des Hasler gave evidence on Friday.

Des Hasler gave evidence on Friday.Credit: Kate Geraghty

“If he had to consistently and non-stop [move] for 139 minutes, then it would be unreasonable,” Hasler said. “But there were various breaks, changes of speed and rest and recovery. We wanted to make sure it wasn’t too arduous. We don’t want to place players in a position where it’s too hard or they become injured.”

Asked hypothetically if he would have changed the session knowing what happened to Titmuss, Hasler said: “In hindsight, that’s a difficult question. Anyone that’s under my care, you would do anything to prevent such a tragic accident. There could be parts there I could change.”

The inquest is not a criminal trial and no Manly coaches or staff members have been accused of criminal conduct or wrongdoing.

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The inquest heard a statement from former player Sione Fainu earlier in the week that Sea Eagles players were told in a meeting before training to advise staff if they were struggling with the session on November 23, 2020.

Longtime sports doctor Nathan Gibbs, who was the chief medical officer at the Sea Eagles from 2019 until 2021, also fronted the inquiry. He wasn’t at the Sydney Academy of Sport on the day of the session in which Titmuss died.

He told the court the NRL should mandate all clubs having a gradual return to training in the first two weeks of pre-season training to help acclimatisation, suggesting a 50 per cent load in the opening week and 75 per cent in the second week.

“We have to stop people getting to the heatstroke stage,” Gibbs said. “Unfortunately, it can come on within a minute. You have no time to deal with it. It’s all about managing load until the body becomes better at acclimatising.”

Hasler echoed Gibbs’ sentiments and said he would support such a measure.

The inquest before deputy state coroner Derek Lee continues.

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