New Zealand Rugby saddened by Sione Lauaki passing

Getty Images     12 Feb 2017     Getty Images

Lauaki passed away in Auckland this morning, surrounded by his family.

New Zealand Rugby CEO 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."

The family have asked media to respect their privacy and have asked them to give the family time and space to mourn their loved husband, father, brother and friend.

Sione Lauaki played 17 Test matches for the All Blacks between 2005 and 2008. His All Black number was 1055.

Listen to Ian Foster on the passing of Sione Lauaki here: