Tributes flow for former Fiji and Highlanders rugby player Seru Rabeni
The rugby world is paying tribute to former Highlanders, Leicester Tigers and Fiji sevens and 15s star Seru Rabeni, who has died suddenly, aged 37.
According to the Fijivillage.com website, Rabeni died while having breakfast at his house in Nasaki, Fiji on Tuesday. It is believed he had a heart attack. He had recently recovered from an illness.
The Fijian Broadcasting Corporation said he was one of Fiji rugby's "greatest sons" and his death was a shock to the nation.
His former Highlanders teammate, 16-test All Black NIck Evans was among a host of rugby players around the globe to share their condolences on Twitter.
Shocked to hear the passing of my old Highlanders teammate Seru Rabeni. Gave the pass for my first Super Rugby try. #RIPMate— Nick Evans (@nick10evans) March 15, 2016
"Shocked to hear the passing of my old Highlanders teammate Seru Rabeni. Gave the pass for my first Super Rugby try. #RIPMate" he wrote.
Australia winger Lote Tuqiri, who was born in Fiji, said: "Man just heard the news of Fijian and @LeicesterTigers legend Seru Rabeni passing this morning in Fiji. A great man taken way too young @ 37".
Another of Rabeni's teammates at the Highlanders, Craig Newby, responded to Tuqiri's tweet, saying: "bro just read that news. I'm devastated. My thoughts go to all his family and friends. Top man taken to young."
Nicknamed Rambo, the former school teacher started his rugby career way back in 1998 with Lautoka and went on to represent Fiji at the 2003 and 2007 Rugby World Cups
In 2001, Rabeni started studying at the University of Otago, and in the following year he played for Otago in the National Provincial Championship before gaining a Super 12 contract with the Highlanders.
He went on to play 11 games for the Highlanders, mostly in the midfield, back in 2003 and 2004.
The Highlanders tweeted: "Saddened to hear of the passing of Seru Rabeni today, our thoughts are with your family. #Highlander92".
Rabeni moved to English club Leicester in 2004, where he would have more of an impact, spending five years there before switching to Leeds.
Leicester legend and England World Cup-winner Neil Back also paid tribute to his old teammate.
He said: "Very sad to hear of the passing of Seru Rabeni yesterday, my thoughts are with his family, friends & rugby followers around the world #RIP"
Very sad to hear of the passing of Seru Rabeni yesterday, my thoughts are with his family, friends & rugby followers around the world #RIP😔— Neil Back MBE (@NeilBack) March 15, 2016
Rabeni is survived by his partner and their two-year old-daughter in Hong Kong, where they had lived since 2013.
He separated from his first wife in Fiji and their two children, aged seven and four years-old.