Quentin Pongia: Former Wigan forward dies aged 48
Former New Zealand captain and Wigan Warriors forward Quentin Pongia has died aged 48 after a long-term battle with cancer.
Pongia, who reached the 2003 Super League Grand Final, had surgery in November to remove a bowel tumour.
"He was an icon of the game, a great bloke and a fearless player," New Zealand Rugby League chief executive Greg Peters said.
Pongia won 35 caps from 1992 to 2000 and played in the 1995 World Cup.
The former Canberra front-rower retired in 2004 after being diagnosed with hepatitis B.
"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," Peters said.
Canberra coach and former team-mate Ricky Stuart said: "I know how hard he fought to beat this terrible disease.
"Quentin is the toughest individual I have ever played with. He will be sorely missed right across the rugby league community."
Pongia made 74 appearances for Canberra from 1993 to 1997 and was a vital member of their 1994 Premiership-winning team.
He also played in the National Rugby League for New Zealand Warriors, Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra and had a spell in France with Villeneuve before joining Wigan in 2003.
He played 30 games for Wigan and was part of the side that were beaten 25-12 by Bradford Bulls in the Grand Final.