Taniela Moa: Former Tonga rugby international dies aged 36

    Taniela Moa looks on during the Tonga IRB Rugby World Cup 2011 Captain's Run at Eden Park on September 8, 2011.

    (CNN)Former Tonga rugby international Taniela Moa has died at the age of 36, the Tongan Rugby Union announced on Thursday.

    "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," it said on its social media.
    "We would like to send our love and deepest condolences to his family through this sad and tragic time. May he fly high among God's army and look over you all.
      "Rest in love Nela."
        Moa made his debut for Auckland in 2005, appearing 58 times. During his club career, he also played for Bay of Plenty, Super Rugby teams, the Blues and the Chiefs, as well as French team Section Paloise.
        The halfback earned 21 caps for Tonga, according to Reuters, playing for the country at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.
        He played in all four games for Tonga at the tournament, including the opening match against the All Blacks and the upset victory over eventual runners-up France.
        Section Paloise paid its respects to it's former player on Twitter.
        "Sad news for the Green and White family this Thursday morning, we have just learned of the loss of Taniela Moa at the age of 36," it said.
        "International with the Baby Blacks and Tonga, he wore the colors of the Section from 2011 to 2017 and participated in the club's rise to TOP 14.
        Moa in action during the international match between France and Tonga at the Oceane Stadium on November 16, 2013.
        "Taniela was an atypical player who illuminated the Hamlet, he had a form of genius at his position capable of sending 30m passes to the left and to the right. He was a very endearing boy," said Bernard Pontneau, President of the Section.
        "To his family, relatives and former teammates, the Section offers its sincere condolences."
        The Samoan rugby team also posted their condolences to Moa.
        "We are shocked to hear of the sudden passing of our Uso, Taniela Moa. Such a huge loss and gone too soon.
          "Our prayers and thoughts goes (sic) to the Ikale Tahi Team, Tongan Rugby and also the Moa family. Rest well Taniela.
          "Alofaaga from Aiga Manu Samoa.''