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Former All Black Sione Lauaki dies

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/02/2017

Former All Blacks and Chiefs loose forward Sione Lauaki has died aged 35.

Lauaki was diagnosed with kidney and heart problems in 2012, picked up by biological assessments while he was playing for Bayonne in France.

A massive but athletic player, Tonga-born Lauaki played 17 Tests for the All Blacks between 2005 and 2008.

He also played for Auckland and Waikato in the national provincial championship, and the Chiefs in Super Rugby.

"We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sione Lauaki this morning," the Chiefs said in a statement.

"The formidable forward first debuted for the Chiefs in 2004, playing 70 games for us before departing New Zealand in 2010 to continue his career in France

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

New Zealand Rugby joined with Lauaki's former All Blacks and Chiefs teammates in expressing condolences via Twitter.

Blues coach and former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga led the chorus on Sunday morning.

"Another brother gone! Much love and condolences to his family," Umaga tweeted.

"The thoughts of everyone are with the family of Sione Lauaki... Gone too soon," NZ Rugby said.

"Damn. It's a sad day today, rest easy dox," Sonny Bill Williams said via Twitter, while another All Blacks teammate, Israel Dagg, also tweeted his condolences.

"Played with but not against (thank goodness ) gone too soon Wax.. rest in peace bruv."

Former All Black wing Cory Jane also tweeted condolences.

"Sad news about Sione Lauaki ... I remember being on the receiving end of one of his fends a few years ago.

"Rest easy."

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