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Tributes flow following death of ex-All Blacks winger Joeli Vidiri aged 48

By AAP
Joeli Vidiri during his time with the Blues. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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Former New Zealand winger Joeli Vidiri, who also represented Fiji, has died aged 48, the All Blacks announced on Friday.

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Vidiri’s death comes within 24 hours of the passing of fellow New Zealand international winger Va’aiga Tuigamala, aged 52.

“An incredibly sad day continues,” the All Blacks tweeted.

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“Another one of our brothers taken. You’d struggle to meet a nicer guy than Joeli Vidiri, not to mention his remarkable skills on the field.”

Vidiri, who made two appearances for the All Blacks in 1998 after representing Fiji in seven matches, suffered from a kidney issue which prematurely ended his career in 2001.

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A fast and powerful athlete, Vidiri played alongside All Blacks great Jonah Lomu in several appearances for Counties Manukau and the Blues.

“When he was at the peak of his career around the 1996-97 season there were no more awesome sights when he was in full flight than Joeli Vidiri,” his biography on the All Blacks website read.

“It is doubtful whether two more imposing figures have ever been together in any side. And especially in the 1996-97 seasons Vidiri was the more effective of the two,”

Vidiri made 71 appearances for Counties scoring 56 tries and played 62 games for the Blues scoring 43 tries.

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“G.O.A.T is used frequently these days, more than it should. In the case of Joeli the title truly fits. One of the greatest players of all time,” the Blues tweeted.

Vidiri won a gold medal with the New Zealand rugby sevens team at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

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