Wigan amateur rugby league club pays tribute to under 11s coach Ben Heaton

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Ben Heaton played for Halifax Panther for seven years Credit: Twitter: Halifax Panthers

An amateur rugby league club in Wigan has paid tribute to its under 11's coach after his sudden death at the age of 33.

Former player Ben Heaton, who played for Halifax Panthers for seven years, died on Thursday 23 June.

Tributes have been paid from across the world of rugby league, including Orrell St James', where he coached the under 11 players.

The club posted on facebook to say: "Orrell St James are sad to announce the sudden passing of our under 11s coach Ben Heaton.

"The club would like to pass on our deepest condolences to Ben's family and friends."

Many members of Orrell St James have left their own tributes, one said: "the lads and Millie are going to miss him", and another said "Sad news, what a tough player and nice bloke."

Tributes left on social media for Ben Heaton Credit: Facebook, Orrell St James

Ben played for a host of clubs in the rugby league Championship in a career spanning 14 years.

His longest stay was at Halifax Panthers, where he spent seven years.

The club said he was "a superb servant to our great club and one that will never be forgotten.

'He was beloved by all those that knew him. Our condolences go out to his family and friends at this sad time. RIP"

The Panthers will also be holding a minutes silence before their Homecoming game on Sunday 25 June in his memory.

In a career spanning 14 years, Heaton played for the likes of Oldham, Halifax, Batley Bulldogs, and Hunslet.

One community sports centre in Oldham which Ben was involved is dedicating its game in the North West amateur rugby league on Saturday 14 June.

The Higginshaw Community project said: "Yesterday we had some sad news we have unfortunately lost one of our own Ben Heaton.

"Today we are in the North West men's semifinal and the game is being dedicated to Ben and his family, there will be a minute's silence before the game which kicks off at 2:30PM at home.

"We would like as many people to come and join us in celebrating Bens life they way he enjoyed his, putting his body on the line on the pitch."

The Higginshaw Community Sports Centre is remembering Ben Heaton Credit: Facebook

The Rugby Football league has also paid tribute, and said: The RFL are shocked and saddened to hear the news of Ben Heaton’s passing.

"Our condolences go out his family, friends, colleagues and former teammates."