As part of a major health kick, the late rugby great Va'aiga Tuigamala had filmed a Three series in which former All Blacks prep for a match against an unknown team.
Spy understands Three is now waiting to speak to his family about his time on the second series of reality show Match Fit, which was filmed over spring/summer and is yet to air. They have been busy preparing to celebrate his life at his funeral next weekend.
In the first season, the show saw rugby royalty, Sir Graham Henry and Sir Wayne "Buck" Shelford bring together a team of former All Black greats, including Frank Bunce, Kees Meeuws, Troy Flavell, Pita Alatini, Eroni Clarke, Piri Weepu and Eric Rush. Clarke, father of Blues star Caleb Clarke, has spoken of shedding 12kg during the show.
A spokesperson for Three confirmed Tuigamala - aka Inga the Winger - took part in season 2.
"We are all devastated by the news of Inga's passing. He was an immensely popular and wonderful friend of everyone involved in the show. Our thoughts are first and foremost with his family and friends. We will not be making any further comment until we have spoken with his family."
Tuigamala, who died last week, has talked openly about his health struggles and was about to launch a new video series in which he discussed being diagnosed last year with type 2 diabetes.
"I'm obese as you can see," he said on the series. "High blood pressure, I had a stroke about nine years ago. I've really - in rugby terms - just dropped the ball."
Tuigamala was also set to star in Celebrity Treasure Island, it was revealed last week. This week we learned the beloved winger was up north for filming and had bonded with his fellow castmates in pre-production.
"Inga Tuigamala had travelled north with the cast and was present over the pre-production days," a spokesperson told Spy. "He left before filming started to seek medical attention."
TVNZ confirmed they have found a replacement contestant.
We also learned that during pre-production of TVNZ 2's Celebrity Treasure Island in the Far North, Covid scares put the cast and crew into isolation, halting production. It is understood the celebrity cast were prepping for the show when close-contact scares shut everything down.
"Much like the rest of the country, Covid has had an impact on the production of this year's Celebrity Treasure Island," a TVNZ spokesperson told Spy.
"Following Ministry of Health guidelines, cast and crew were moved into isolation before filming commenced and this resulted in a short delay to the schedule."
Productions are having to be nimble and smart in how they cope. CTI is the second Covid curveball in TV land, while Shortland Street had its strict health and safety measures to thank for filming to be able to continue after 44-year-old star Nicole Whippy became sick with Covid last week.