Willie Los’e, who captained Tonga at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, has sadly passed away at the age of 55.
His family released a statement about the sportsman turned commentator’s passing earlier today.
“A proud West Aucklander,” his family called him, before thanking those who informed him and asking for time to grieve.
“The Los'e whānau would like to thank Karl Te Nana, Bailey Mackey and World Rugby boss Steve Jamieson for contacting us directly from South Africa this morning relating to the sudden passing of our brother Willie,” they said.
“We ask that as a whānau, we be given time to process and work through our devastating loss and the logistics of repatriation of our brother, father, uncle, son home. We are awaiting details from Cape Town.”
“Thanks to Steve Jamieson who has spoken to the New Zealand High Commission, who will be heading to Cape Town tomorrow to help with the repatriation of Willie's body to bring him home to Aotearoa.”
“We as a whānau are thankful to all Willie's friends from around the world who have sent their condolences and support.”
“Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou."
After his playing career, which spanned over 15 years, he entered the media industry where he hosted Radio Sport, and commentated for tournaments like Super Rugby, ITM Cup and World Rugby Sevens games.
Another rugby commentator, Keith Quinn, once interviewed Los’e on his blog.
Los’e said that throughout his life, he was most appreciative of being a father and captaining the Tongan national rugby team.
“I'll go for two of my very proudest moments? That's easy. Becoming a dad for the first and second time were days I will never forget,” he said.
“Then, in a rugby sense, playing my first test at the Rugby World Cup in South Africa in 1995. It was Tonga v France at Loftus Versfeld Ground in Pretoria.”
“I cried right through the Tongan National anthem - I just wished and wished my parents had been still alive to have been there."
When asked to share his life motto he said:
“I've always liked the little expression I heard first years ago; 'Put your hand Up not out.' I reckon that has worked for me."