Club mates of former All Black Sione Lauaki have paid their respects to the "gentle giant",
ahead of his funeral today.

Tribute games and fundraising for Lauaki's wife and children are also being planned after friends gathered at a private family event on Thursday.

Visitors to Lauaki's family home in Auckland brought gifts of number eight jerseys and a centurion ring.

The loose forward died last night Sunday surrounded by family, having apparently suffered kidney failure.


Waitemata club captain Nigel Chang was one of many former club mates to make his way to Lauaki's parents' home in west Auckland.

Lauaki played for the Waitemata side in his first year out of Kelston Boys High School in 2000, under the wing of then coach Michael Jones.

Chang said his friend always had time for others, especially younger players.

"He was exposed to a lot of good coaching and gave time to give back to us as a club," Chang said.

"He always had time for everyone especially guys coming up through the grades, he still looked after them."

While on the field Lauaki was known for his destructive play, off field he was a quiet, happy-go-lucky guy who some would call a gentle giant, Chang said.

Waitemata rugby and a group of Kelston old boys were planning to dedicate a home game to Lauaki in the near future and would use the opportunity to fundraise for his family.

"We'll get the home club and crowd down and the community down," Chang said.

The team also planned to have the insignia for Lauaki's clothing brand, Dox Brothers, printed on their uniforms this year "in remembrance of him."

Lauaki's funeral is being held at 10am today in Te Atatu, West Auckland and he will be laid to rest at Waikumete Cemetery.

He played 17 tests for the All Blacks between 2005 and 2008 after making his debut for the Chiefs in 2004.