New Zealand Warriors star Manu Vatuvei has posted an emotional tribute to 'brother' Sione Lauaki as the former All Black is laid to rest.
Mourners started arriving at Church Unlimited in West Auckland this morning for a public service to farewell the 35-year-old, who died on Sunday after reportedly suffering from kidney failure.
A private, family service was held last night.
League star Vatuvei, who attended Lauaki's wedding in Rarotonga four years ago, has taken to social media today to say goodbye to a friend so close he called him a brother.
"Last day with our brother.. maybe gone but will never be forgotten... till we meet again my doko..." Vatuvei wrote with a video montage of some of Lauaki's finest moments on the rugby field.
A family notice in the Herald revealed he died at Waitakere Hospital, in West Auckland.
The son of Kepu and Melefale Lauaki, he is also survived by wife Stephanie and his five children, the notice said.
"Loving brother of his five sisters and four brothers whom he not only cared for but carried through his short journey in life.''