Former New Zealand captain Pongia dies aged 48

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Former New Zealand captain Quentin Pongia has died aged 48 following a long battle with cancer.

Pongia's death was announced by Canberra Raiders, for whom he made 74 of his 137 NRL appearances between 1993 and 2003.

He also featured in 35 Tests for New Zealand and played 30 games across two seasons in Super League with Wigan Warriors, starting the 2003 Grand Final loss to Bradford Bulls.

Raiders coach and former team-mate Ricky Stuart said: "From my personal relationship, and [on] behalf of the current playing group, I'd like to pass on my sincere condolences to Quentin's family in this tough time.

"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. 

"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."

A New Zealand Rugby League statement posted on Twitter read: "It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Quentin Pongia after a courageous battle with cancer.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this time. A legend of the game that will be sorely missed."