Former Manu Samoa skipper Peter Fatialofa dies

Updated at 6:07 pm on 6 November 2013

Former Manu Samoa rugby captain Peter Fatialofa has died suddenly in Samoa at the age of 54.

Fatialofa played 34 times for Samoa and led the side at the 1991 World Cup.

Papali'itele Peter Fatialofa, better known as Fats, made his rugby debut for the Ponsonby senior club side in 1980.

He graduated to the Auckland side, made the Samoa national team as a 29-year-old. Fatialofa played 72 times for Auckland and was a part of their Ranfurly Shield reign from 1985 to 1993.

Auckland's coach at the time, Maurice Trapp, said Fatialofa was given the title of Keeper of the Ranfurly Shield.

"When it was presented at the end of each of those games then it was his role, wherever he went, that the shield went with him. It did go missing once, but he found it the next day I think."

Former All Black Michael Jones, who played one test for Samoa, said Fatialofa played a big part in his introduction to representative rugby in Auckland.

"Fats really took me under his wing 'cos I was a 20-year-old west Auckland Polynesian kid and it was a pretty intimidating environment."

Speaking from France, Jones said Fatialofa was a dear friend and he was shocked to hear of his death.

Meanwhile former Auckland and All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry says Fatialofa was a man who would do anything for anyone.

The cause of of death has not been officially been determined, but is suspected Fatialofa died of a heart attack.

Radio station Talofa FM in Samoa reported that the 54-year-old had died suddenly. It cited witnesses saying he had parked his car in front of a local market at Fugalei about 7am on Wednesday but sat in the car for several minutes, prompting people to check on him.

An ambulance took his body to the national hospital where he was pronounced dead.

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