Tributes flow in for late ‘Ikale Tahi player Heamani Lavaka

Tributes have poured in for former ‘Ikale Tahi, rugby league player and coach Heamani Lavaka, who has died at the age of 55 in Parkes, Australia.

New Forbes coach Heamani Lavaka in action for Parkes Boars in 2013. Photo/Forbes Advocate

Lavaka was first capped for Tonga during the match against Samoa in Apia, on 13 July 1996.

Former ‘Ikale Tahi captain ‘Inoke Afeaki who had also played together with Lavaka was among the first to pay tribute to Lavaka on social media.

“Heart wrenching loss, Rest In Peace Heamani Lavaka one of Tonga’s 2003 Rugby World Cup biggest unsung heroes who did some serious grind work to help catapult an amazing young batch that went on to wow the world in the following 2007 and 2011 RWCs”,

Lavaka also played four matches in the tournament, with the match against Canada in Wollongong on 29 October 2003.

At club level, Lavaka played the Australian Rugby Championship for Melbourne Rebels in the 2007–08 season.

Afeaki described Lavaka as “More than just a talented Rugby Player, he will be missed by his community as an influential Coach at the Forbes Rugby Union Club”.

“Condolences to his beautiful family, immediate and wider Rugby mates who share in the sadness in losing Heamani, we will miss your humour, honesty and your commitment to helping your community”.

Lavaka’s coaching career in rugby included clubs in Sydney.

Lavaka’s daughter ‘Emeline Lavaka posted a heartful message on Facebook.

“Thank you to everyone who has been a part of our Dad’s large and wonderful life. Dad passed away yesterday (Monday 22).

“He fought right until the very end and he was surrounded by so much family, music and love when he took his last breaths. Dad was incredibly peaceful in his last moments.

“We will soon share details of Dad’s memorial. Thank you to everyone who has sent us messages of support during this time. Your love is very much appreciated”.

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