Former Tonga star Taniela Moa dies aged 36 as he is hailed a ‘legendary great’

Former Tonga halfback Taniela Moa has passed away at the age of 36, with the country's rugby union hailing him as a 'legendary great' within the game.

The Tonga Rugby Union confirmed the tragic news in a statement, but no cause of death has yet to be revealed.

The statement read: "A stalwart of Ikale Tahi Tonga rugby who will now have his named etched among the echelons of the legendary greats. Such sad news to receive about the passing of Taniela Moa."

"We would like to send our love and deepest condolences to his family through this sad and tragic time."

The Samoa rugby team also paid tribute following Moa's passing, releasing a statement of their own.

"We are shocked to hear of the sudden passing of our Uso, Taniela Moa. Such a huge loss and gone too soon," they said in a statement.

Moa was initially called into the New Zealand squad in 2008 as an injury replacement but never took to the field, meaning he was still eligible to play for Tonga.

Moa would go onto amass 21 caps for Tonga having made his debut back in 2011 – a year in which he played all four games at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

The former halfback played in the shock 19-14 win over one of the frontrunners in France, who would eventually go onto finish as runners-up.

Moa's last game for his country came in 2015 in a 30-22 defeat against Fiji in the Pacific Nations Cup.

Moa previously played for New Zealand provincial teams Auckland and Bay of Plenty, while also representing the Blues and Chiefs in Super Rugby.

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