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Tributes flood in for former NRL star on the anniversary of his tragic death

13 years ago this week Sonny Fai had the rugby league world at his feet.

He had played 15 NRL games for the New Zealand Warriors in his debut year and was gearing up for a big season in 2009 when tragedy struck.

Fai disappeared in the water’s surf after rescuing his younger brother off of Bethells Beach in Auckland, New Zealand.

His body was never recovered, but his legacy still very much lives on today in the hearts and minds of former teammates and coaches who have paid tribute to him in a series of loving gestures.

Ex-Warriors teammates Ben Matulino as well as former Salford Red Devils winger Manu Vatuvei posted on their Instagram pages “Better late than never” with a crying emoji and the hashtag #SF138 which were Fai’s initials and what is presumed to be his heritage number at the Warriors.

The New Zealand Warriors, in honour of Fai, kept his name in the playing squad for 2009 in accordance with their team motto “Keeping the Faith” and wore black armbands for their opening NRL match of the 2009 season.

The club’s tributes didn’t stop there, however, as the Warriors wore jerseys embroidered with Fai’s signature and official team number in honour of him.

Rest in peace, gone but never forgotten.

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