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- Tongan rugby union footballer
Auckland, Blues and Tonga scrum-half Taniela Moa has died at the age of 36, it was reported on Thursday.
A 21-cap Tonga international and long-term servant of Auckland rugby, it is said that he died suddenly after a ‘medical event’ at his home in the city.
Tributes quickly poured in, both in New Zealand and his Tongan home.
“A stalwart of Ikale Tahi Tonga rugby who will now have his named etched among the echelons of the legendary greats. Such sad news to receive about the passing of Taniela Moa,” said the Tongan union in a statement.
“We would like to send our love and deepest condolences to his family through this sad and tragic time. May he fly high among God’s army and look over you all.
“Rest in love Nel.”
Former Tongan captain Nili Latu also paid his respects, talking of how he had been with Moa only a few days ago.
“I only saw him last week, we were shooting the Moana Pasifika video for the season and having a great laugh,” Latu said to Stuff.
“Now, not knowing it was the last time I would see my brother, it is hard news to take in.
“He was a character, that’s what stands out. He loves a laugh, and he loves a joke. But, man, when he pulls on that red jersey he is a different beast.
“That is something I will forever treasure. He was transformed when playing for his country, I know he was so proud to also represent his family.
“Today Tonga has lost a legend of the game. He was a special player. We were blessed to have him. I am just trying to let it sink in. It is just surreal.”
Moa was once selected to the All Black bench, but as he did not get on the pitch he remained eligible for Tonga. He ended up playing against New Zealand in the 2011 World Cup opener in Auckland. He leaves a wife and children.
The article Tonga international Taniela Moa passes away appeared first on Planetrugby.com.