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Former Wallaby Vickerman dead at 37

NZN 19/02/2017 Adrian Warren

Former teammates and international rivals have expressed, sadness shock and respect following the death of former Wallabies lock Dan Vickerman at age 37.

The Australian Rugby Union confirmed that Vickerman died at his family home in Sydney overnight.

It is understood there were no suspicious circumstances.

He leaves behind a wife and two young children.

Born in South Africa, Vickerman moved to Australia at age 21 and went on to play 67 Tests and three World Cup tournaments for his adopted nation from 2002-2011 before injuries forced his retirement in 2012..

He was renowned for his strong lineout work and aggressive approach on the ground.

"The rugby world is in shock today after news of the tragic passing of Dan Vickerman," said ARU chief executive Bill Pulver.

"Dan was an uncompromising competitor who forged a wonderful international rugby career despite a number of injury setbacks along the way.

"He was an enforcer on the field and a much-loved character off the field."

The Wallabies, Wallaroos and Australian Sevens teams, the Australian Super Rugby franchises and the Rugby Union Players' Association were quick to pay their respects to Vickeman, along with several of his former teammates.

There was a particularly poignant tweet from fellow lock Nathan Sharpe, who formed a formidable second row combination with Vickerman.

"I had my arm around you for most of our playing days brother. No words can express the sadness," Sharpe tweeted.

Five-eight Quade Cooper tweeted, "Shocked an old team mate Dan Vickerman has passed away..Grateful to have played alongside you."

Vickerman's last Test was the 2011 World cup semi-final loss to New Zealand.

The All Blacks' Twitter account was among the first of the international responses to the news.

"The#AllBlacks join the rugby family in mourning the passing of former Wallabies lock Dan Vickerman. Rest in Peace," it tweeted.

While regarded as an uncompromising figure on the field, Vickerman was a very diffrerent person away from the field.

Winger Lote Tuqiri, who said he was shattered by the news of Vickerman's death, described him as an "absolute gentleman.

"He was very well-mannered off the field," Tuqiri told Fairfax Media.

He had that white-line fever but off the field he was lovely.

"He was a big man with a soft heart."

Another former Wallabies and Waratahs backline teammate, Matthew Burke, painted a similar picture.

""Very abrasive as a player but a good bloke, though," Burke told Fairfax media.

Vickerman linked with the Brumbies on arrival in Australia and made his Super Rugby debut in the 2001 season.

In June 2002 he made his Test debut in a 31-25 Wallabies victory over France.

After three seasons and 33 appearances for the Brumbies, he was signed by the Waratahs in 2004 and played five seasons and 53 matches for them.

After playing in his second Rugby World Cup in France in 2007, Vickerman withdrew from Australian rugby for three years to study in England.

He earned a degree in land economics from Cambridge University, where he played in two Varsity matches against Oxford, captaining the side to a 31-27 victory in 2009.

He returned to Australia in time to earn selection by Wallabies coach Robbie Deans for the 2011 World Cup.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.

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