All Blacks players have banded together to support loose forward Vaea Fifita after his young brother died in an accident in the USA last week.
Fifita, 27, has travelled with the All Blacks to Perth for this weekend’s Test against the Wallabies, despite the loss of his brother Albert John Mapa who drowned at the Provo river.
As Kaniva news reported last week, Mapa, who was also known as AJ, reportedly jumped off a pedestrian bridge into the water behind the dam. Family and friends who were with him in the area told officials they could see Mapa “appeared to be in trouble,” a press release said.
Search and Rescue crews found his body more than three hours later.
Fifita has shared an emotional tribute to his brother. In a picture posted to Twitter he wrote:
“I can’t believe that you’re gone little brother. It hurts so much,” Fifita said.
“You’ve been called by God to be with him. Although it’s tough and we are struggling to understand why you had to go so young but I know you’re in a better place. I miss you so much man.”
All Blacks’ coach Steve Hansen said the team is supporting Fifita.
He confirmed prior to the squad’s departure out of Auckland for Perth on Saturday morning that Fifita was part of a reduced travelling contingent, with fellow loose forward Luke Jacobson and young five-eighth Josh Ioane (a squad add-on for development purposes) both ruled out because of concussion symptoms.
“You’ve all heard the news about Vaea, which is incredibly sad.
“We pass on our condolences to his family, but he is travelling.
“We’ll get round him.”
Mapa was laid to rest on Saturday at Valley View Memorial, West Valley City, Utah.