Rugby world in shock over tragic death of 23-year-old star

The rugby community has been rocked by the death of young Blues and North Harbour prop Mike Tamoaieta.

Over the weekend New Zealand Rugby announced the 23-year-old “passed away suddenly” on Friday.

However his cause of death was not released.

The Samoan-born Tamoaieta played 10 Super Rugby games for the Blues and 18 Mitre 10 Cup matches for North Harbour.

He also played for Samoa at Under-20 level.

His former Blues teammates wore black armbands during their 23-19 loss to the Jaguares on Sunday.

“It was devastating,” Blues assistant coach Tom Coventry told reporters after the match.

Mike Tamoaieta poses during the Blues Super Rugby headshots session at Blues HQ in 2018. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

“It was a tough day.

“We spoke about Mikey and reminisced about him and our team and how influential he’s been.

“We tried to leave the emotion out but we were very aware and tried to perform for him. But it’s tough.

“We’ll get home and give Mikey a good farewell during the course of the week.

“He was a great kid, a big happy-go-lucky chap, always up for a joke, always got a smile on his face, he never took himself too seriously.

“He’s going to leave a big hole in our team and with the rugby public. We’re going to miss him dearly.

Mike Tamoaieta in action for North Harbour. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

“He didn’t expect to play rugby for North Harbour.

“I remember the very first day he turned up he’d been on the building site, had his boots on, his Swandri, was covered in sawdust, and as Mike used to wear his hair pretty long, draped round his shoulders, I wondered who this rooster was who had turned up for training.

“He was a very infectious character.”