Former All Blacks and Chiefs star Sione Lauaki has died aged 35, after apparently suffering kidney failure.
It has been reported Lauaki had recently been on dialysis, after having been diagnosed with renal failure and cardiovascular problems in 2012.
The Tongan-born forward made his debut with the Chiefs in 2004, and was called up to play with the All Blacks in 2005. Over his rugby career he played 70 Super Rugby matches, and 17 tests for New Zealand.
The announcement has been met by an outpouring of tributes from the sporting community on social media.
The star forward's death was acknowledged by Waikato Rugby, who offered their condolences to his family.
Fellow All Black Sonny Bill William and others also paid their respects.
Piri Weepu’s message is a series of emojis that show the All Black was clearly at a loss for words.
Lauaki’s health issues were discovered in France in 2011. He was playing for the French club Bayonne at the time.
He was ordered not to train or play by doctors which prompted his release from the club.
Lauaki was somewhat of a controversial figure, having experienced several brushes with the law in New Zealand.
In 2006 Lauaki admitted to an assault charge against a security officer and was given police diversion. He was convicted of a careless driving and assault in Hamilton in 2010.
Lauaki was reportedly living in Rarotonga and running a cafe with his wife Stephanie.
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