Westlake Boys' High School has honoured former student and promising rugby league footballer Zae Wallace, who died over the weekend.

The 20-year-old caught the flu seven weeks ago, which led to pneumonia, which then led to a serious infection before his family turned off his life support on Saturday afternoon.

Taking to Facebook, WBHS said Wallace, who was the school's premier rugby league team captain, left a mark on the school during his time there.

"The Westlake community is deeply saddened by the loss of former student, and star rugby league player, Zae Wallace," the school said online.


"Zae's legacy of dedication, loyalty, selflessness and leadership will serve as an inspiration to many future Westlakers.

"Zae is remembered fondly by everyone who was at Westlake with him. Zae will stay in our thoughts, and we send our love and prayers to his family and friends."

Wallace had been fighting the infection in Auckland City Hospital, where he was placed on a ventilator and an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine.

However, within the past fortnight, his health took a turn for the worse and after receiving medical advice the family decided to turn off his life support.

Family spokeswoman Lizzie Lees said Wallace died yesterday afternoon surrounded by family about 2.30pm.

The Westlake community is deeply saddened by the loss of former student, and star rugby league player, Zae Wallace. ...

Posted by Westlake Boys' High School on Monday, 3 June 2019

Love has poured out since Wallace's death, she said, with support coming from both New Zealand and Australia.

"The family are doing really well, they've been surrounded by an incredible amount of love. It's quite a big family, and they've come together strongly," she said.

"That's been a real source of comfort but also it's the community and I guess the rugby league community in particular.


"Zae played rugby league in New Zealand and Australia, they've come over from Australia, they are really surrounding him with lots of love."

Not only was he a standout within his school, Wallace also played for national-level representative sides before he signed a contract with the Gold Coast Titans under-20 side.

He had recently returned to Auckland and started a new career as a scaffolder while playing rugby league for the Northcote Tigers.

He only played one game before falling ill and because he wasn't eligible for ACC at the time a Givealittle page was created for his recovery.

However, the page, which has raised more than $32,000, said in an update the funds would help family with funeral expenses.

WBHS said Wallace achieved a lot within the school, including leading the 7A rugby team to an undefeated year for their entire season and boasting 610 points for and 0 points against.

"Zae was also captain of the school's premier rugby league team in his final year at Westlake in 2016," the North Shore high school said.

"During his last year at school, he was also named as the most outstanding Auckland school's rugby league player at the College Sports awards at Eden Park."