Former New Zealand winger Joeli Vidiri, who also represented Fiji, has died aged 48, the All Blacks announced on Friday. Vidiri’s death comes a day after fellow New Zealand winger Va’aiga Tuigamala died aged 52.
“An incredibly sad day continues,” the All Blacks tweeted. “Another one of our brothers taken. You’d be hard pressed to meet a nicer guy than Joeli Vidiri, not to mention his outstanding skills on the pitch.” Vidiri, who made two appearances for the All Blacks in 1998 after representing Fiji in seven matches, suffered from a kidney problem which ended his career prematurely in 2001.
A fast and powerful athlete, Vidiri played alongside All Blacks great Jonah Lomu in several appearances for Manukau Counties and the Blues. “When he was at the peak of his career around the 1996-97 season, there weren’t any more impressive sights when he was in full flight than Joeli Vidiri,” his biography said on the All Blacks website. “It is doubtful that two more imposing figures have ever been together in a team. 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 Blues scoring 43 tries. He won a gold medal with the New Zealand rugby sevens team at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
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