The sister of the late Sonny Fai is asking NRL fans to think twice about how they use social media, after a Facebook post which has caused "great sadness and shock" to her family.
On Tuesday evening a post from an account in the name of Ben Small linked the Warriors' current poor form with a joke in poor taste about the death of Fai seven years ago.
Fai was a highly promising Warriors centre and back rower who drowned at Bethells Beach on January 4, 2009, after trying to rescue family members who were caught in a rip. His body has never been found.
Sister Lalelei Fai said her first reaction to the post was a mixture of "pain and anger".
"My blood was boiling...I was so pissed," said Lalelei.
"I thought `How can you use my brother's picture like that. It was so disrespectful."
"But it also made me really upset. January 4 was playing in my head again...it all came back to me again. And I was worried about the rest of the family seeing it...my son just saw it when he walked in the room. He asked me `why would someone do that?'. I didn't know what to say."
Lalelei added that Fai's mother Tausili, who only joined Facebook a few weeks ago, was in tears when she stumbled across the offensive message.
"She was crying," said Lalelei.
"Asking me why he would use Sonny's picture..why is he making jokes about that? I warned Mum before she joined Facebook that there are some strange people out there, but she wanted to keep in touch with family and friends."
Lalelei says that while the family have moved on with their lives, the pain of their loss is still very real.
"To be honest, it crosses our mind all of the time," said Lalelei.
"It's something that's always there..something you never really forget."
Lalelei says that's part of the reason most of the family lives across the Tasman now.
"It wasn't really a planned thing to come over here," said Laelei.
"One day [in 2011] Dad just got up and left, he decided to move. And we all eventually followed him. I guess there was a feeling that if we left New Zealand it would help to move on."
The post also attracted comment from some former teammates on Facebook.
Former Warriors captain Ruben Wiki said "Definitely not appropriate whoever you are" while George Gatis disapproved, saying "Would love to discuss this post with you personally."
When contacted by the Herald, Warriors Managing Director Jim Doyle said the post was "highly disrespectful to Sonny and his family."
However, Lalelei also hopes that this event might make people reconsider how they use social media.
"I've always felt for friends when there is some nasty post or something but it is not until it happens to you that you realise what's it's like. It's a horrible, horrible feeling."
But in the middle of typing an angry response to Small she reconsidered, after seeing Sonny's photo again.
"I looked at Sonny's amazing smile in that photo and I thought `he would be like - forget it," explained Lalelei.
"There is enough hate in the world. What are we going to get out of it by responding...by dragging ourselves going down to his level?"
"So all I am going to say to him (Small) now is God bless you," said Laleilei.
"God bless you and your family. I wish you happiness and I truly hope something like this never happens to you."