AAP Rugby

Kiwi rugby league legend Pongia dies

By AAP Newswire

Tributes are flowing in for former Canberra and New Zealand forward Quentin Pongia, who has died aged 48 following a cancer battle.

Pongia played 137 NRL games and 35 tests for the Kiwis, winning the 1994 premiership with the Raiders.

The front-rower also spent time at the Warriors, Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra, as well as playing two seasons in the English Super League with Wigan.

Raiders coach and former teammate Ricky Stuart was among those to pay tribute to Pongia, who underwent surgery last November to remove a bowel tumour.

"Like a number of players who played with him, I have nothing but respect and a wonderful friendship with Quentin and although it saddens me to hear of the news, it comforts me to know he has no pain now," Stuart said.

"Quentin is the toughest individual I have ever played with and I know how hard he fought to beat this terrible disease.

"He will be sorely missed right across the rugby league community."

The New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) also honoured their former captain.

"He was an icon of the game, a great bloke and a fearless player," NZRL chief executive Greg Peters told the New Zealand Herald.

"He had a huge identity in the game during his playing career and it's just really tragic to see cancer take another great man way too early."