29 Mar 2009

New Zealand star plays through heartache

6:55 am on 29 March 2009

The defending champions New Zealand will play Kenya in the Cup quarter finals at the Hong Kong sevens rugby tournament following second-day wins over Zimbabwe and Australia.

And one of the team played a decisive role in the final pool win over Australia shortly after learning his younger brother had just died in a car crash.

Following day one's 59-0 thrashing of Sri Lanka, New Zealand also dished out another hiding to Zimbabwe, 52-0, before the much closer pool decider against their near neighbours.

Zar Lawrence steered New Zealand to the 17-5 victory over Australia, scoring twice, including a mazy 50-yarder, to put his team into the quarter-finals - despite learning of his teenage brother's tragic death only hours before.

Afterwards he revealed the 4am phone call in which he was told his brother Wirenu, 16, had died in the accident.

Lawrence, who's 27, says his family told him to play on at the prestigious Hong Kong event as a tribute to his brother Wiremu, who was 16. He will fly home on Sunday or Monday.

England and South Africa lead the IRB series with 60 points, while New Zealand are third with 52, having not won a round of the series yet this season.