Former league star Stacey Jones is mourning the loss of his sporting great grandfather, Hone "Manga" Emery, without whose influence he might never have touched a football.

Emery, aged 79, died this week after a long battle with throat cancer.

He played for the NZ Maori rugby team for four years before being selected for the Kiwis, the national league side, in 1961.

He was in the side for five years, alongside rugged front-rowers Sam Edwards and hooker Jock Butterfield.

Advertisement

Emery was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer 18 months ago and died at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland on Thursday.

Jones said his grandfather handed him his first football and showed him how to play league as a youngster.

"He was the first person that got our family involved in league... he gave us all advice on footy," Jones, a Warriors and Kiwis star, said.

"We never got the chance to see him play ... but, because he played for New Zealand, we always thought: 'I want to be like my grandfather and play for our country as well'.

"I was fortunate enough to [play for New Zealand] and he was proud of what I did, and I was certainly honoured to follow in his footsteps."

The funeral is at Henderson on Tuesday.