6 Jan 2009

Rugby league shocked by drowning of player

5:34 am on 6 January 2009

The rugby league fraternity is reeling at the loss of New Zealand Warriors player Sonny Fai, who is missing, presumed drowned, at a West Auckland beach.

Fai, 20, got into difficulty in the surf at Bethell's Beach on Sunday evening after going to help his younger brother, who was caught in a rip. Surf lifeguards, police and a rescue helicopter searched the sea in rough conditions, but were unable to find him.

Warriors' manager Don Mann says the club paid for a private helicopter to sweep the area on Monday, and the entire club has also been at the beach with the Fai family to help with the search.

The search will resume on Tuesday.

Fai played 15 games for the Warriors after making his NRL debut last March. He was voted the Warriors' under-20 player of the year in 2007.