Tributes For Tongan Rugby Player Who Died After Match Flow In

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Halaifonua’s brain injury in New Zealand shocks rugby community

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, July 26, 2013) – Tributes are flowing in for a Tongan rugby player in New Zealand who died on Tuesday July 23 in an Auckland hospital after suffering head injuries in a rugby match on Saturday.

The Tongan-born Viliami Halaifonua (27) collapsed unconscious soon after the end of a semi-final game and only moments after he was announced player of the match between Takapuna RFC and Massey RFC.

Viliami played lock for the premier Northshore rugby club team based in Takapuna and is well known by many professional rugby players for his talent and personality.

The cause of death from brain injury has shocked the rugby community, and video footage of the game is now being analysed. According to the head of the North Harbour Rugby Union, Brett Hollister, there were no signs that Viliami had suffered a concussion during the match despite several head knocks.

Viliami was described by his team mates as a humble family man and a "gentle giant".

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