MACKAY Cutters coach Kim Williams has officially retired the number 14 jersey worn by Alex Elisala for the season to honour the 20-year-old rugby league player who died on Monday.

"It was the first thing that came to mind when I started to reflect on what we could do for him," Williams said at an emotional press conference yesterday.

"That's an easy thing; the hard part is moving forward," he said. "It's nothing you can make sense of; it's a tragedy."

Townsville-based Elisala died in Mackay Base Hospital on Monday night following an incident in the CBD early Sunday morning.

He played for the Cutters in their match against Tweed Heads on Saturday night and the club is devastated at the loss.

"The impact Alex made, it's probably best described in the fact that he loved coming down here and he saw this as his team, this is who he wanted to play for," Cutters chief executive officer Glenn Ottaway said.

Cutters team mates had undergone counselling after the incident, Ottaway said.

"The key message was - every so often, ask your mate how he's going."

The incident comes on top of others involving other young rugby league players who have had mental health problems, including Mackay's Brett Seymour who is battling depression.

West Tigers NRL player 20-year-old Mosese Fotuaika ended his life earlier this year.

Mackay psychologist Katrina Robertson said sports people often faced more pressures than an everyday person.

"Whether they're Twittering or on the web talking about it, if they have a good game or not a good game, everyone will be commenting on it," she said.

She said people should care about others, regardless of mistakes they made.

"They're not actually footballers, they're people in football uniforms."

She said more needed to be done to address mental health.

"We need to be doing so much more education," Robertson said.

"It doesn't matter if you're a great NRL player or not, we all struggle with things."

FOR HELP

Lifeline: For 24-hour support, call 13 11 14 or visit http://www.lifeline.org.au

Beyondblue: Call 1300 224 636 or visit http://www.beyondblue.org.au

SANE: Call 1800 187 263 or visit http://www.sane.org



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