NRL Rd 16 - Panthers v Eels
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 02: Tom Opacic of the Eels is seen wearing a black arm-band for the death of his brother Jakob, during the round 16 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels at BlueBet Stadium on July 02, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Tom Opacic's brother Jakob was killed on Friday afternoon in an alleged hit-and-run, just hours before the Parramatta Eels were due to play the Penrith Panthers.

The Eels wore black armbands during the game after emergency services were called to the crash in the Gold Coast hinterland earlier in the day.

Queensland Detective Inspector Chris Ahearn said police were investigating the incident, which is understood to have occurred after Jakob picked up a woman from the Numinbah Correctional Centre.

“We don’t know if he has had contact with another car or what the circumstances were of him coming off his bike and subsequently dying,” he said.

“We think that the deceased was attending the correctional centre on the occasion of her release, along with other people.

“At this stage, we believe there may have been an altercation between the deceased and some other people at this location.”

Jake sustained critical injuries and died at the scene of the crash, about three kilometres away from the centre.

Parramatta Eels coach Brad Arthur heaped praise on his centre post-game, saying he suggested the 26-year-old shouldn't have played the game.

“I suggested he didn’t play,” said Arthur.

“He wasn’t taking that, he wanted to be around his mates. He wanted to make a sacrifice for his teammates, it shows as a club where we are at.”

The Panthers eventually went down to the Panthers 13 points to 12 on the back of a Matt Burton field goal at the back-end of the game, which was played in front of an empty BlueBet Stadium in Penrith.

In a statement, the Eels said they would support Tom through the upcoming period.

"We are sad to learn of the sudden passing of Jake Opacic today, brother of Tom Opacic," said the statement.

"The Parramatta Eels extend their thoughts and deepest sympathies to the Opacic family.

"Tom was brave to play in tonight’s game under painful circumstances, and we will support him during this difficult time."