New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA) expresses great sadness over the passing of former Super Rugby player Kurtis Haiu.

The 31 year-old former Blues player fought a courageous battle with a rare form of bone cancer, Ewings Sarcoma and died earlier this afternoon surrounded by family.

The 2011 diagnosis ended the second-rowers rugby career which saw him play 53 matches for the Blues and 72 for Auckland.

Former team mate and New Zealand Seven’s player Onosai Auva’a who closely stood alongside Kurtis during his fight said “Our love and support goes out to his two young beautiful daughters Aaliyah and Sienna, his wife Frieda and the Haiu family.”

Auvaá recently attended the renewal of Kurtis and Frieda’s wedding vows stated “Kurtis simply refused to accept his illness which was probably why he continued to battle his disease for so long and we pray that he is now able to rest in peace.”  

NZRPA Board Member and Blues captain Jerome Kaino who played alongside the lock said “Kurtis loved his girls so much and our love and prayers go out to them and the Haiu family. 

“Kurtis fought such a brave battle to be with them for as long as he could, which was typical of his character.   I loved playing footy with Kurtis and I will treasure those memories of my Blues brother and pray that he rests in peace.”

In a bid to overcome the rare disease Kurtis tried a variety of treatments including intensive chemotherapy, alternative treatment in Switzerland and surgery.

Former Blues halfback David Gibson from the New Zealand Rugby Players Association who grew close to Haiu throughout his ordeal said “Kurtis was a unique and special person who loved his family and was a brother to those he played with.   On behalf of the players, our thoughts go out to his girls and his family.”

NZRPA Board Member and Blues captain Jerome Kaino who played alongside the lock said “Kurtis loved his girls so much and our love and prayers go out to them and the Haiu family.