Young New Zealand rugby league prospect Fine Kula has been forced to immediate retirement after being diagnosed with brain cancer
The 21-year-old was concerned when he was unable to overcome an on-going headache issue, so he went for tests.
On January 30, Kula was diagnosed with grade-four medulloblastoma. Given this type of cancer is rarely found in adults, the survival rates are largely unknown
He'll undergo intense chemotherapy at Liverpool Hospital, southwest of Sydney next week.
Kula moved to Australia in 2014 and has progressed through the ranks at the Cronulla Sharks. This year, he was on a train and trial contract for the opportunity to break into the Sharks' top-30 NRL squad.
But that opportunity is now gone.
"I was speechless,'' Kula told the Sydney Morning Herald. ''I didn't have any emotions until afterward.
"I'm still kind of processing it now. I will just have to keep working hard to get better.''
The news rocked the entire Sharks' side and the Cronulla-based side is working with the Men of League Foundation to support Kula and his family.
"The Sharks are offering their full support to Kula and his family at this difficult time, with details being worked through, in consultation with the Men of League Foundation, regarding fundraising activities aimed at assisting with the on-going costs associated with his treatment," said a statement from the club.
"The Cronulla Club, NRL coaching staff and the playing group are rallying around Kula and his family, with Sharks welfare staff also providing support and assistance."
A GoFundMe page has also been set up and has raised over $5500 as of 10am, Sunday (NZ time).
Current NRL players Braden Hamlin-Uele and SioSiua Taukeiaho, Bronson Xerri are among the people to donate.
Kulu has won the NSWRL Matthews Cup Player of the Year in 2015 and a part of the Sharks championship-winning Jersey Flegg team in 2018.
He also represented the Junior Kiwis.