12 Feb 2017

Ex-All Black Sione Lauaki has died

8:19 pm on 12 February 2017

Tributes are flowing for the former All Black, Sione Lauaki, who has died aged 35.

Sione Lauaki at an All Blacks training in Christchurch in 2008.

Sione Lauaki at an All Blacks training in Christchurch in 2008. Photo: Photosport

Lauaki is understood to have suffered kidney problems.

The block-busting loose forward played 70 Super Rugby games for the Chiefs between 2004 and 2010 and was capped 17 times for New Zealand.

He made his All Blacks debut against Fiji in 2005 and was part of the All Blacks team that contested the 2007 World Cup in France.

His final Test in the black jersey was against Samoa in 2008.

Lauaki moved to France in 2010 to play for top 14 side Clermont before joining Bayonne in 2011.

He was let out of his contract with Bayonne in 2012 due to his kidney problems.

The New Zealand rugby union said New Zealand and Pacific Rugby was mourning the passing of Lauaki.

In a statement they said the 35-year-old passed away in Auckland this morning, surrounded by his family.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive 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.

"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 team mates, fans, family and friends."

His All Blacks number was 1055.

Tributes to Sione Lauaki were tweeted by his former teams the All Blacks and the Chiefs.

Former team mates and players have also reacted to the news of Sione Lauaki's passing on Twitter.

The Blues coach and former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga tweeted, "another brother gone! Much love and Condolences to his family! #RILWax!"

Sonny Bill Williams tweeted, "damn. It's a sad day today, rest easy dox @SioneLauaki."

Israel Dagg tweeted, "Sione lauaki.. played with but not against (thank goodness ) gone to soon wax.. rest in peace bruv."

The Wallabies player Israel Folau also expressed his sadness on twitter.

"Sad to hear the passing of @SioneLauaki. Love and prayers to the family."

The former Chiefs player, Bundee Aki, tweeted a picture of Sione Lauaki with his All Blacks teammate Jerry Collins, who died in a road accident in France in 2015.