Former All Black Lauaki dies aged 35
NEWS: Former All Black Sione Lauaki has died at the age of 35, the New Zealand Rugby Union said Sunday.
His departure follows less than a week after the death of Springbok legend Joost van der Westhuizen.
The cause of Lauaki 's death was not immediately revealed, but the powerful loose forward had apparently suffered from kidney failure.
The blockbusting forward had recently been on dialysis, having been diagnosed with renal failure and cardiovascular problems in 2012.
"The thoughts of everyone are with the family of Sione Lauaki. Sione played 17 Tests from 2005-2008. AB#1055. Gone too soon. RIP, Wax," the NZRU tweeted, referring to Lauaki by his nickname.
Lauaki made his Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs in 2004 and was selected for the All Blacks for his maiden Test against Fiji the following year.
He was a member of the 2007 World Cup squad.
"Another brother gone! Much love and Condolences to his family," tweeted former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga, leading tributes from former teammates.
Sonny Bill Williams referred to Lauaki as Dox, a reference go the Dox Brothers fashion label he was involved with.
"Damn. It's a sad day today, rest easy Dox," Williams wrote on Twitter.
New Zealand Rugby Union CEO Steve Tew expressed his condolences to the family.
“We are incredibly saddened by this news, as will be many who have known Sione through both his rugby and Tongan community connections," Tew said.
"It is always sad to lose a member of the All Black community, but with Sione passing at such a young age it will be felt with an even greater sense of tragedy amongst his former teammates, fans, family and friends."
The family have asked media to respect their privacy and have asked them to give the family time and space to mourn their loved husband, father, brother and friend.
Sione Lauaki played 17 Test matches for the All Blacks between 2005 and 2008. His All Black number was 1055.
Before being selected for the All Blacks, Lauaki played for the one-off Pacific Islands combination against Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
He played 70 Super Rugby matches and was capped 17 times for New Zealand.
Leaving for French Top 14 side Clermont Auvergne in 2010, Lauaki made the move to Bayonne in 2011 before doctors discovered his health issues, ordering him not to train or play.
This prompted Bayonne to release him from the club.
Lauaki made a name as a blockbusting back-rower which saw him mentioned in the same breath as All Blacks teammates Rodney So'oialo and Jerry Collins.
The thoughts of everyone are with the family of Sione Lauaki. Sione played 17 Tests from 2005-2008. AB#1055. Gone too soon. RIP, Wax. pic.twitter.com/7dfSxqyqvy— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) February 11, 2017
Sad to hear about the big man. Ofa atu kihe famili tokotaha ni mei NZ ki Ha'apai. RIP toko. ???? pic.twitter.com/M4nVG2olkE— Malakai Fekitoa (@MalakaiFekitoa) February 12, 2017
Damn. It's a sad day today, rest easy dox @SioneLauaki ??— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) February 11, 2017
Thoughts go out to Wax's family at this time.. taken to early Toko!! So sad and heart broken… https://t.co/wwJcVYALb9— Piri Weepu (@piriweepu) February 11, 2017
Sad to hear the passing of @SioneLauaki. Love and prayers to the family.??— Israel Folau (@IzzyFolau) February 11, 2017
35!? Way too soon!! RIP Sione Lauaki.. ???? Such horrible sad news.. Thoughts & prayers are with his family in this time ????— Matt Giteau (@giteau_rugby) February 11, 2017
Sad news about @SioneLauaki ...— Cory Jane (@CoryJane1080) February 11, 2017
I remember being on the receiving end of one of his fends a few years ago.