- Publish Date
- Wednesday, 21 March 2018, 8:24AM
Former All Blacks flanker Dylan Mika has died from a suspected heart attack.
The 45-year-old played two tests for Samoa and, after serving a three-year stand-down period, seven for the All Blacks, including two against Italy and South Africa at the 1999 World Cup.
Mika, who had diabetes, was a popular figure who cared deeply for Auckland and Samoan rugby. He was also vice president of the New Zealand Barbarians club and an active committee member.
In a statement on Tuesday night, Mika's family described him as a "warm, wonderful, and caring man". "It is with great sadness that the family of Dylan announce that he passed away suddenly and unexpectedly Tuesday, March 20.
"Dylan was a very much loved husband and father to Tracy and their daughter Marley, and dearly loved son, brother, uncle, cousin and friend. He was a hugely talented athlete, well-respected in the Samoan community and abroad but just as importantly, to his friends and family a warm, wonderful, and caring man."
Sir Bryan Williams coached Mika at Manu Samoa before he played for the All Blacks and has worked alongside him as patron of the New Zealand Barbarians club. "He was very highly regarded. He was doing some great work certainly for the club but particularly in the secondary school area. Dylan's been very active in that area.
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said the rugby community was stunned by the news and deeply saddened at his passing.
"Dylan is one of the rare talents, that represented both Samoa and New Zealand at a time when rugby had not long turned professional. He continued to have an active involvement in rugby both in Auckland and Samoa, and in particular, in his loyalty to the New Zealand Barbarians. Our thoughts are with Dylan's family and friends," he said.
The cousin of former Blues coach Pat Lam, Mika was also friends with Sir Michael Jones and is thought to be close with the Samoan Prime Minister.
Mika played over 50 matches for Auckland from 1994-2000, a time when he competed with Jones, Zinzan Brooke, Charles Riechelmann, Mark Carter and Andrew Blowers.
He also turned out for the Blues and Chiefs, who he captained, during the Super 12.
Mika is the fifth All Black of the professional era to pass away before the age of 50. 1999 World Cup and Blues teammate Jonah Lomu passed away aged 40 of a heart attack in 2015. Jerry Collins died in a car crash, along with his partner Alana Madill, in France in 2015 aged 34. All Blacks, Northland winger and Mika's Blues teammate Norm Berryman died of a heart attack aged 42 in 2015. All Black and Chiefs loose forward Sione Lauaki passed away last February, aged 35, due to heart and kidney problems.