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Rugby league supporters and the community at large have united to raise close to $30,000 so far to help promising young player Christian Pese.

Pese (18) is on life support in Christchurch Hospital after having a stroke while playing for the South Island against Auckland Blue in the NZRL National 20s competition on March 14.

He had only recently moved to Dunedin to begin a law degree at the University of Otago.

As well as playing rugby league, Pese excelled in rugby union as a flanker for the King's College First XV in 2019 and 2020. 

Family friend Cherie Whaanga has set up a Givealittle page, which has so far raised close to $30,000.

Funds raised will go towards travel expenses and costs for the family to remain by his side as well as helping to fly Pese's eldest brother Caleb (pictured below) home from Australia. Caleb played at under-20 level for the Vodafone Warriors in the Jersey Flegg Cup in 2019 and also represented the New Zealand Residents 18s against Toa Samoa.

The description on the Givealittle page reads: “Christian comes from a strong, loving and supportive family but he is fighting for his life right now down in Christchurch.

“His family is based in Auckland but have all travelled or are travelling to be by his side. Christian had only just set himself up down in Otago when this happened.

“His family is devastated, their eldest son Caleb is desperate to get home from Sydney and they all need to be able to be together again. It is now time to hope and pray for a miracle!

“Please help us lessen at least one burden for this family over this time. Christian we love you and you are a fighter! Arohanui to Korey, Joanne and all of your beautiful whānau.”

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