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 championships and the Chiefs in Super Rugby.
Former All Blacks and Chiefs teammates have acknowledged Lauaki’s death and expressed their 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.
“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.”
The Chiefs rugby franchise and the All Blacks also expressed condolences via Twitter.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sione Lauaki this morning,” the Chiefs said.
“The thoughts of everyone are with the family of Sione Lauaki… Gone too soon,” NZ Rugby said.
Wallabies star Israel Folau also offered his condolences via Twitter.
“Sad to hear the passing of @SioneLauaki. Love and prayers to the family,” Folau tweeted.