Warriors mark player's watery grave

By Lynley Bilby

Manu Vatuvei leads players up a sand dune at Bethells yesterday. Photo / Michael Craig
Manu Vatuvei leads players up a sand dune at Bethells yesterday. Photo / Michael Craig

The New Zealand Warriors have made a poignant return to a beach where one of their promising young stars lost his life saving his brother from a rip nearly four years ago.

But just a handful of players from the NRL team which frantically searched the Bethells Beach shoreline in West Auckland for Sonny Fai, in January 2009, were part of yesterday's training run.

Fai, who played for the Warriors' first-grade team, drowned trying to save his younger brother and his body has never been found.

Warriors' centre Jerome Ropati said a short carpark ceremony marked the return of the Warriors to the beach that claimed one of their own.

Only a few players remained at the club in the four years since the tragic drowning, and while it was a sad occasion it was time to move on.

"We just got together and talked about who Sonny was, to just remind us and to tell the new players what he was like," Ropati said. This was followed by a brief prayer before a two-hour training run.

Ropati, back at Bethells for the first time since losing his friend, said he was not superstitious about the beach.

"If Sonny was here today he certainly would be training hard with us."

- Herald on Sunday

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