All Blacks in tribute to ex-player Lauaki
Tributes have been pouring in for former All Black Sione Lauaki, after it was announced that the retired New Zealand forward had died at the age of 35.
The cause of death was not immediately revealed, but Tonga-born Lauaki had been diagnosed with heart and kidney 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 All Blacks tweeted on their verified account, referring to the back-rower's nickname.
He made his Super Rugby debut for the Waikato Chiefs in 2004 and made his All Blacks debut against Fiji the following year. Lauaki, who was a member of the 2007 World Cup squad, played 70 games for the Chiefs before leaving New Zealand in 2010 to play in France.
"We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sione Lauaki this morning," the Chiefs said in a statement.