Sione Lauaki, Retired All Black Forward, Dies Aged 35

February 13, 2017

Former All Black Sione Lauaki, 35, has died, apparently suffering from kidney failure.

Lauaki, who played 17 tests, was an enormously destructive forward, whose career never quite reached its potential.

He emerged out of Kelston Boys High and played for New Zealand Colts, making his Auckland debut in 2002.

There were some early doubts about his fitness and commitment. He made his debut for the Chiefs in 2004, switching to Waikato, and made his test debut against Fiji at Albany in 2005.

Lauaki was also part of the All Blacks squad that contested the 2007 World Cup, taking the field against Italy, Portugal, Scotland and Romania in pool games, but was suspended for two games for a high tackle against Romania.

He played for the one-off Pacific Islanders combination, and scored tries for them against Australia, New Zealand and South Africa within a 15-day period in 2004.

He played in France, but struck major health problems and was reported to be living in Rarotonga.

"He was a quiet man, but on the field, he was absolutely dominant. I've got this video in my mind of when he absolutely threw Richie McCaw 10 metres.

The Chiefs have issued a message of condolence to Lauaki's family and friends.

"We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sione Lauaki this morning.

"In addition to his on-field heroics, Sione was a much loved and respected team-mate. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sione's family and friends and with the entire Chiefs whanau as today we have lost a brother.

The Chiefs dedicating the their Brisbane Global Rugby Tens campaign to the memory of Lauaki, winning the tournament in his honour.

Laukai was a 70-cap stalwart for the Chiefs in Super Rugby.

His death has led to an outpouring of grief in the New Zealand rugby community, as well as in Brisbane, where some of his former teammates and coaches are competing in the inaugural tens tournament.

Chiefs captain Liam Messam was given permission to fly home immediately after their scheduled quarter-final against the Queensland Reds, but decided to play on, and led the Chiefs to the title.

"There's a number of guys who played a lot of footy with Wax [Lauaki]," Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said.

"Liam Messam, in particular, is a great mate of his so it's been a pretty upsetting morning.

"We gave Liam the opportunity not to play and head home straight away but he was determined to go out and put out a performance for Wax."

"We lost a brother today but we just kept on fighting and did what we had to do," said Messam.

(NZ Herald)

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