Rugby: Widow of Rabeni opens up on former player's death

Seru Rabeni goes up against Tana Umaga when playing for the Highlanders. Photo / Getty
Seru Rabeni goes up against Tana Umaga when playing for the Highlanders. Photo / Getty

The wife of the late Fijian rugby star Seru Rabeni, who died suddenly this week, has opened up about the last few days of his life.

The 37-year-old, who played Super Rugby for the Highlanders in 2003/04, died in Nakasi of a suspected heart attack. Rabeni's father-in-law, Viliame Kanatabua, confirmed that Rabeni had recently recovered from a lengthy illness.

The powerful back, nicknamed Rambo, played 30 tests for Fiji, and figured in the 2003 and 2007 World Cups. He also played for Leeds, Leicester, La Rochelle, and Mont-de-Marsan.

Naome Rabeni told the Fiji Times she was teaching class at the Rara District School in Naluwai when she was told her husband had collapsed while having breakfast with his brothers.

Rabeni had been living at their home in Verata Wailevu on the outskirts of Nausori looking after their home and business. She said he had seemed healthy.

"I was in school when his brother called me to say something had happened to Seru and just before I came down to Nausori he called me again to give me the bad news," Noame said.

The family, including their 7 and 4-year-old sons, had been together last week and Rabeni insisted they all have lunch on the weekend before taking Noame and the boys home.

"It was that one time that I really missed him, as if he was going overseas. He said goodbye to the boys and to me before he left," she said.

"I sat at the porch quite longer that evening missing him."

Rabeni had called her shortly before he died.

Tributes have flowed for Rabeni, including from England/Leicester players Lewis Moody and Tom Croft.

Moody tweeted Rabeni was "... tough as they come on the pitch but a gentle and friendly soul off it" while Croft described Rabeni as an "unbelievably skilled player".

- NZ Herald

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