“PEOPLE reading this should watch the videos for themselves,” said Pete Davies when fondly remembering James Comben’s exploits on the pitch.

“His running ability, kicking ability – he was just brilliant.”

The Welshman’s comments came after former Henley Hawks star Comben died on Sunday at the age of 29 following his battle with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma – a rare form of blood cancer.

  • Video courtesy of James Comben Rugby

News of his death broke earlier this week, with the south Oxfordshire club saying they were deeply saddened by the news.

Comben was diagnosed in February 2017 and only married his partner Elle a few weeks ago, with the wedding brought forward.

Hawks’ former head coach Davies, who also played alongside the fly half, said Comben was a “lovely character, very kind and gentle, but a determined person with an underlining passion.”

He continued: “James was a really good family man, very close to his sister (Susie).

“His mum (Liz) and dad (Nigel) used to come to all of our games – it was their hobby as well.

“It’s obviously very, very sad.”

Davies added: “James was very talented, people often saw him as being mercurial.

“He had a brilliant running game, he was great with the ball off the floor and out of hand and exceptionally fast for a fly half, hence he scored loads and loads of tries.”

The Oxford Times:

  • James Comben in action for Henley against Hartpury in 2012

Comben came through the youth and colts set-up, making his Hawks debut in 2009.

He went on to play 167 games and was a key member of the squads which won promotion to National League 1 in 2013 and 2015.

Director of rugby Nigel Dudding said: “His talents were recognised quite early when he was in the colts.

"He came through the senior sides and really took to it.

“He was determined to improve his performance all the time.

"He trained with Wasps on an ad hoc basis and played for their A League team.

“He had a natural skill set which was great in terms of his ability to see gaps and his kicking game was superb.

“He was very quiet, an unassuming guy.

"But underneath he had a steely determination to do well and he showed that resilience and tenacity during his illness in many ways.

“He always had a smile on his face and time for people.”

Tributes have flooded in from local clubs and players on social media.

Chinnor RFC tweeted: “The thoughts and prayers of all @ChinnorRugby are with James’s family, friends & teammates @HenleyHawks at this sad time. Terrible loss to all who knew him on and off the pitch!”

Banbury RUFC posted: “So sorry to hear this. Our thoughts are with you and James’ family at this time.”

Former teammate Louis Flynn added: “Top bloke! Will be missed, RIP #combo #GTH”.