Former All Black Lauaki dies aged 35

Updated: 

Tributes flowed for Sione Lauaki after the former New Zealand forward died at the age of 35.

Lauaki won 17 caps for the All Blacks between 2005 and 2008, while he also played for Chiefs and with Bayonne and Clermont in France.

In a statement, Chiefs paid tribute to Lauaki, sending their well wishes to his family and friends.

"We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sione Lauaki this morning," the Super Rugby team said on Sunday.

"The formidable forward first debuted for the Chiefs in 2004, playing 70 games for us before departing New Zealand in 2010.

"In addition to his on-field heroics, Sione was a much loved and respected team-mate.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Sione's family and friends ... we have lost a brother.

"Rest in peace Sione, always a Chief."

The All Blacks and Rugby World Cup winner Sonny Bill Williams were among others to pay tribute to Lauaki.