Sport | Rugby league

Tributes pour in for Quentin Pongia

The rugby league world has praised former Raiders, Warriors and Kiwis prop Quentin Pongia, who passed away on Saturday.

The 48-year-old had been battling cancer.

Former team mate and current Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart spoke on behalf of the team that Pongia had played 74 matches for, between 1994 and 1997.

"From my personal relationship, and behalf of the current playing group, I'd like to pass on my sincere condolences to Quentin's family in this tough time," Stuart said.

"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."

The Raiders wore black armbands and observed a minute’s silence prior to their game with South Sydney on Saturday night.

Originally from the West Coast, Pongia moved to Christchurch as an 18-year-old in 1988. After playing in the local competition for five years, he was picked up by the Canberra Raiders and helped them win a premiership in 1994. Pongia also played 35 tests for the Kiwis. After retiring from the game in 2003, Pongia had held various coaching roles, most recently at Manly.

In all, he played 137 matches during his NRL career from 1993-2003 for the Raiders, Warriors, Roosters and Dragons, while also playing for two seasons in the English Super League with Wigan.