Sonny Fai

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Sonny Fai
Sonny Fai.jpg
Personal information
Born (1988-03-20)20 March 1988
Auckland, New Zealand
Died 4 January 2009(2009-01-04) (aged 20)
Te Henga (Bethells Beach), Auckland, New Zealand
Playing information
Height 192 cm (6 ft 4 in)
Weight 109 kg (17 st 2 lb)
Position Second-row, Centre

Years Team Pld T G FG P
2008 New Zealand Warriors 15 5 0 0 20
Source: [1]

Sonny Fai (20 March 1988 – 4 January 2009) was a professional rugby league player who played for the New Zealand Warriors.


Fai was born in Auckland, New Zealand.

Early years[edit]

Fai played only one senior game for his junior club, the Mangere East Hawks, before being promoted to the Counties Manukau Jetz in the Bartercard Cup. A Warriors development player since 2003, he later played for the Auckland Lions in the 2007 NSWRL Premier League and the Junior Warriors in the 2008 Toyota Cup.[2] Fai made ten appearances in the Toyota Cup, scoring five tries.[3] Fai attended De La Salle College, Mangere East

Playing career[edit]

Fai made his NRL debut on 23 March 2008 against the Parramatta Eels at Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand. Fai was named the Warriors 2007 Under-20 Player of the Year. A powerful back rower who impressed for the Auckland Lions when he debuted in the NSWRL Premier League in 2007, scoring 14 tries in 21 games. He was named in the New Zealand and Samoan training squads for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.[4][5]

Representative career[edit]

Fai made representative teams from a young age, first making the New Zealand under-16s in 2003. Fai made the Junior Kiwis in 2004 and New Zealand 'A' in 2007.[2]


Fai went missing at around 7 pm on 4 January 2009, after being caught in a rip current while trying to save his brother and four cousins when they got into difficulty at Te Henga (Bethells Beach), Auckland. Despite extensive searches his body was never found,[6][7] and on 13 August 2009 Chief coroner Neil McLean announced in the Auckland District Court that he drowned.[8]


The New Zealand Warriors, in honour of Fai, kept his name on the playing roster for the 2009 season, in accordance with their team motto "Keeping the Faith".[9] The Warriors wore black armbands for their opening NRL match of the 2009 season, as well as jerseys embroidered with Fai's signature and official team number in honour of him.[10]

The Warriors dedicated their Round Five home match to Fai's memory. The match was played on the 5 April 2009 and the Warriors were defeated by the South Sydney Rabbitohs, 22–16.


  1. ^ Rugby League Project
  2. ^ a b "The Sonny Fai tribute: New Zealand league loses a favourite son". The Sunday Star-Times. 10 January 2009. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
  3. ^ Sonny Fai, Sonny 2008
  4. ^ "Samoa name World Cup Squad". League Unlimited. 2008-08-05. Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  5. ^ Barry Dick and AAP (8 August 2008). "Sonny Bill Williams named in Kiwi world cup squad". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
  6. ^ Warriors join search for talented prospect, missing after being caught in rip[permanent dead link] Glenn Jackson| January 6, 2009
  7. ^ Team-Mates and Club Officials help in search for Sonny Fai[permanent dead link] Warriors Official Site 5 January 2009
  8. ^ Fox, Michael, and NZPA (13 August 2009). "Warriors player Sonny Fai drowned - coroner". Retrieved 2009-08-13. 
  9. ^ Umbers, Lee; Lawton, Aaron (2009-01-11). "Warriors to honour missing Fai by leaving him on playing roster". Archived from the original on January 17, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  10. ^ "Steve Price to play 300th NRL match". 2009-03-10. Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 

External links[edit]