A loving father, a dedicated businessman and a larrikin with a wicked sense of humour – Chris McLean was a top bloke.
Yesterday a steady stream of family and friends visited the room at the Royal Brisbane Hospital where the manager of Caloundra City Realty lay still, clinging to life with the help of a machine.
On Saturday afternoon the Caloundra Lighthouses player hit his head during a game of rugby union at the Maroochydore rugby union field at Cotton Tree.
It was a freak accident that caused a major brain haemorrhage.
Doctors at the RBH have indicated the 37 year old should have been instantly paralysed by the injury but he walked off the field.
Soon after the game he complained of a headache and minutes later, while sitting on a chair on the sideline, he slumped over, unconscious. He never woke up.
Chris was rushed to the Nambour Hospital and then onto Brisbane, where he was declared brain dead.
Last night he remained on life support as doctors prepared to help him give his final gift to the world – his organs.
His wife, Danielle, and children Jordyn, 10, and Angus, 9, remained by his bed.
Bruce Deegan, principal of Caloundra City Realty, travelled to Brisbane to say a final goodbye to his “mate and dedicated manager”.
“Chris loved his family, loved his job and loved the community. He had more friends than anyone else I’ve ever met and his kids idolised him,” Mr Deegan said.
“He was the sort of bloke who excelled at everything he did. Chris had a habit of ruffling feathers and was never afraid to speak his mind. I really admired him for that.
“In my life I’ve never met such a positive person. Chris was a man’s man. This still hasn’t sunk in.”
Chris grew up in the NSW city of Kempsey, and after finishing school joined the army as a cook. It was there he was anointed with his nickname, Chops, and discovered the two loves of his life – his wife and rugby.
During his time in the navy, Chris was in the forces’ A grade rugby union team and his passion for the sport lived on after he left the military.
He not only continued to play but also coached his son’s junior Lighthouses team.
After being appointed manager of Caloundra City Realty last October, Chris wound back his rugby union commitments and would only fill in when Lighthouses teams were short of players.
It is believed that was why he was playing on Saturday.
Chris and Danielle settled at Caloundra 10 years ago.
It was where they wanted to bring up their children and grow old together.
Soon after they moved, Chris’s parents also moved north.
Glen Poulton, president of the Lighthouses Rugby Union Club, declined to comment yesterday “out of respect for the family”.
Hundreds, however, gathered at the team’s clubhouse to celebrate Chris’s life.
Keith Lelisi, coach of the Lighthouses A grade team, said everyone was very upset by what had happened.
“He was a top bloke. Chris was certainly a memorable guy,” he said.
As well as his involvement in rugby union Chris was an active member of the Caloundra RSL sub branch and the Met Caloundra Surf Lifesaving Club.
He was also an integral part of the Pacific Lutheran College community, where his children attend school and his wife Danielle works.
Bruce Deegan is not a man who cries easily, but yesterday he wept freely as he mourned the loss of Chris, poignantly summing up the situation: “Our loss is God’s gain”.
I was at the game and I know what he has contributed to rugby on the Sunshine Coast.
This freak accident is terrible.