Former Tonga halfback Taniela Moa has died at the age of 36, the country’s rugby governing body has announced. He was 36.
Moa’s death was confirmed on Thursday December 16, by the Tonga Rugby Union. He was 36.
The Tonga Rugby Union said in a statement that Moa was one of the all-time greats. But did not mention the cause of death.
“A stalwart of Ikale Tahi Tonga rugby who will now have his name etched among the echelons of the legendary greats. Such sad news to receive about the passing of Taniela Moa,” it said.
“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.”
The Samoa rugby team also paid tribute to Moa following news of his death.
“We are shocked to hear of the sudden passing of our Uso, Taniela Moa. Such a huge loss and gone too soon,” they said in a statement.
The Auckland Rugby said in a statement; “Auckland Rugby would like to acknowledge the sad passing of Taniela Moa. Taniela had 58 caps in the Blue and White Hoops winning two NPC titles. Taniela also went on to represent Tonga on 20 occasions. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the Moa family at this time.
Moa was called into the All Blacks squad in 2008 as an injury replacement but didn’t take the field, meaning he remained eligible for Tonga.
He went on to earn 21 caps for Tonga after making his debut in 2011 and played in all four games at the Rugby World Cup that year, including the opening match against the All Blacks and the 19-14 upset of eventual runners-up France.
Moa last featured for Tonga in the Pacific Nations Cup in 2015, when they suffered a 30-22 loss to Fiji.
He also previously turned out for New Zealand provincial teams Auckland and Bay of Plenty, and also represented the Blues and Chiefs in Super Rugby.