Former All Blacks forward and Chiefs star Sione Lauaki has died at the age of 35.
The Tonga‑born loose forward played 17 tests for the All Blacks between 2005 and 2008 where he also won 70 caps for the Chiefs.
Lauaki began playing for French club Bayonne in 2011 after a year with rival club Clermont.
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
It was revealed in 2012 that Lauaki was suffering from renal failure and cardiovascular problems where he was forced to stop playing top level rugby and returned to New Zealand.
Damn. It's a sad day today, rest easy dox @SioneLauaki 💔— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) February 11, 2017
Lauaki was also a controversial rugby figure after several brushes with the law before he departed for France.
He was offered a police diversion in 2006 after admitting to assaulting a Hamilton security officer where he was fined $800 and ordered to pay his victim $500 for emotional harm after pleading guilty to assault.
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.
All Blacks Piri Weepu lost for words and Sonny Bill Williams were lost for words as they mourn for their brother on the field as All Blacks stars pay tribute to their lost brother.
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