The family of Blues prop Michael Tamoaieta have announced that the 23-year-old has passed away at his home in Auckland. Tamoaieta's partner announced the North Harbour player's death on Facebook.
Tamoaieta has been described as a much-loved partner to Helen, and father to their daughter Aihana, and a dearly loved son and friend to many.
The Samoan born player made his debut for the Blues last year and would go on to make ten appearances for the Auckland based side. Tamoaieta had not been selected in the initial squad for the 2019 season.
Today the Blues, North Harbour and New Zealand rugby communities have been offering their condolences to his family.
Blues chief executive Michael Redman said that the Blues are stunned by the news and deeply saddened at his passing.
The Blues also posted a tweet where they paid tribute to Tamoaieta.
We are deeply saddened by the news of Mikey’s passing. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and all those lucky enough to have known him.
We love you Mikey T 💙
Blues Brother #276 pic.twitter.com/Od7J1Gv5j7
— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) March 1, 2019
New Zealand rugby chief executive Steve Tew echoed that tribute.
Our sincerest condolences are with Michael’s family at this very sad time.
Michael was a valued member of the Blues and North Harbour rugby environments and had been part of the New Zealand Secondary Schools team. We know his family, club and former school mates will be feeling this loss and our thoughts are with them all.
Players wore black armbands in all Super Rugby matches earlier, it is expected that the Blues will pay tribute to Tamoaieta before their Super Rugby clash with the Jaguares in Buenos Aries later today.
The Blues next home game is at North Harbour Stadium next Saturday, which was Tamoaieta's home ground, where it is expected a special tribute to Tamoaieta will take place.
Tamoaieta's family have asked for privacy as they come to terms with his sudden death.