Former New Zealander and NRL star Sulamai Lavea passes away from heart attack

Former New Zealander and NRL star Sulamai Aukuso Lavea – or affectionately known as ‘Sorbs’ – has passed away from a heart attack.

The attack took place on Saturday December 11, 2021, but his obituary was written on Christmas Day.

Lavea was a former Otahuhu Leopards, Otara Scorpions, Auckland and Manly Sea Eagles representative and died aged 48.

Cousin and family spokesperson Ese Tatupu says “Sorbs” passed away from a heart attack at the Springwood Conservation Park in Brisbane

“For whatever reason, Sorbs decided to walk up the famously and unfortunately named ‘death stairs’ during fitness training and collapsed on the second level. He will be buried in New Zealand, next to his father on Wednesday,” Tatupu told the New Zealand Herald.

“We grew up together in Otara, a two-minute walk from each others’ house and spent a lot of time at Mayfield Park playing rugby together,.

“Sorbs Lavea should have made Junior Kiwis and played for Kiwis back in the days. Selectors were wearing the wrong glasses.

“He was the nicest guy you’ll ever meet and had friends everywhere, people absolutely loved him and will miss him so much… He played with the likes of Mark Hunt and John Hopoate and was good friends with Reuben Wiki. We will be giving him a beautiful farewell.”

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