League stars mourn NZ-born Wests Tigers prop

BRAD WALTER
Last updated 17:32 01/03/2013

Wests Tigers prop found dead

Mosese Fotuaika
TRAGEDY: Promising NZ-born NRL player Mosese Fotuaika has been found dead in a Sydney townhouse.

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Players and officials from the NZRL and NRL club Wests Tigers are shocked and devastated by the death of promising prop Mosese Fotuaika on Thursday.

Fotuaika, called Moses by his teammates, was a member of the Tigers 2012 premiership winning under 20s team and had been promoted to the club's NRL squad for this  season.

NZRL high performance general manager Tony Kemp said it was a sad day for the sport and offered condolences on behalf of the national organisation to Fotuaika's family.

Kemp was sure the 20-year-old had the goods to reach the top.

''He got player of the day last year in the NYC (National Youth Competition) final, so he was on track,'' he said.

''Most of our national team now have been Junior Kiwis and Mosese was a Junior Kiwi last year, so he had plenty of potential.''

Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah said the playing group were shattered by what has happened.

"Mosese had a great future ahead of him and we will miss him dearly.

 "We are a very close knit club and will stick together and support each other during this tough time."

A NSW police spokesperson said officers from Holroyd area command were called to a townhouse in Merrylands about 6.50pm AEDT on Thursday night.

They confirmed a 20-year-old man was found dead inside the premises and said the death was not being treated as suspicious.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

"He [Mosese] was a player of great potential and a very popular and respected member of our club,'' said Wests Tigers CEO Stephen Humphreys.

"We are all deeply shocked and devastated by the news of his death. I have been in regular contact with his family and partner and are providing them with all of the comfort and support we can in this most difficult time.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

"Our players and staff have met together this morning to support each other. With the assistance of the NRL, we have begun to provide professional counselling as they try to come to terms with what has happened.

"We request everyone to respect the sensitive nature of this situation and the privacy of all concerned."

Tigers players and officials expressed their condolences on social media on Thursday.

"RIP Moses absolutely shattered, gone too young," prop Aaron Woods tweeted.

Former Tigers forward Andrew Fifita, who now plays for Cronulla, tweeted: "My heart goes out to your family brother. Gone way too soon. Still can't believe it. Rip brother. #Mosese Fotuaika"

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Manly's Michael Chee Kam added: "Gone way too soon. So much talent man. Rest in peace. Toko gone but never forgotten. In God's hands now."

Teammate Tim Moltzen added the tribute: "Such a sad end to the day. R.I.P big Moses, such a great kid and gone way to young. Be sorely missed by everyone at the club.#brothers".

Fotuaika was a product of Keebra Park High - the same school attended by Tiger superstar Benji Marshall.

A post on the Balmain Tigers official Facebook page said: "Thoughts and prayers go out to the Wests Tigers very own Moses Fotuaika and his family during this very difficult time. May God help them and watch over them".

- Sydney Morning Herald and AAP

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