23 Mar 2015

Sport: Fiji Warriors to honour teammate in final

12:00 pm on 23 March 2015

The Fiji Warriors will play without the number one jersey in today's World Rugby Pacific Challenge final, in a tribute to teammate Iosefo Bele Tabalala, who died in his sleep at the weekend.

Iosefo failed to wake up on Saturday at the team hotel in Suva.

He played in the Warriors pool matches against the Argetina Pampas XV and Samoa A, and had been listed to play in Monday's tournament final against Argentina.

Team manager Dan Domoni says his replacement will wear no number on the back of their jersey today, while there will also be one minutes silence before kickoff.

He admits it's been a difficult 48 hours for the team but says the players are determined to finish strongly in honour of Iosefo.

"It's quite a mammoth task to try and get the boys back, especially the mental preparation and the way they normally do things before a big match, especially because it's a final. Then again, all the team management [and] the Fiji Rugby Union officers are on stand-by to attend to any of the boys that are finding it hard to cope just before the final".

In the other final round matches, the Samoa and Canada A teams will playoff for third place and Tonga A take on Junior Japan for fifth place.

Fiji Warriors manager Dan Domoni with Iosefo Bele Tabalala's jersey.

Fiji Warriors manager Dan Domoni with Iosefo Bele Tabalala's jersey. Photo: Fiji Rugby Union