NZ Warriors search for missing mate - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NZ Warriors search for missing mate

06/01/2009 08:26:44 AM Comments (0)

Shocked Warriors rugby league players were back at Auckland's Bethells Beach on Tuesday to help in the search for a talented young teammate with a reputation for helping others.

Sonny Fai, 20, disappeared in the surf at the beach on Auckland's west coast late on Sunday afternoon as he tried to help his younger brother who was in trouble.

He was believed to have been swept out to sea and for the second day on Tuesday, Warriors players, his family, police and helicopters were searching for him, although authorities believe there is virtually no hope he would be found alive.

The young player was described as a rising star destined for league greatness.

The Warriors did not train on Monday, instead joining the family and church members in the search for their missing mate as devastated players dealt with their grief.

Team manager Don Mann said the players and the team had paid for a helicopter to conduct an aerial search across the vast coastline for the man called "a humble kind of person who never talks himself up and is always willing to put others first".

Others spoke of a kind-hearted man and the rock of his family who rarely missed a day of church.

Fai's Mangere East Hawks coach, Roy Chan, said Fai was a typical Polynesian kid.

"I heard he went to help someone out before he went missing, that's just typical Sonny, always helping others," he said in the New Zealand Herald on Tuesday.

"He always had the skills but it was his attitude. He was always destined for the NRL, if it wasn't the Warriors some other club would have snapped him up."

On Monday, members of the Samoan Methodist Church in Otahuhu congregation helped with the search or prayed for their friend and relative.

His sister, Lalelei Fai, said her brother's actions were typical.

"He's my rock ... he's my whole heart," she said. "He's there for my family."

His girlfriend, Jenna Frost, a 2007 Miss Samoa NZ contestant, said it was heart-wrenching to watch Fai's rescue efforts and she felt totally helpless as she watched the waves sweeping him away.

"I felt like I wanted to jump in there to get him myself," said Ms Frost, breaking down in tears.

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