Rugby community gather to honour former All Black Dylan Mika

Former All Blacks, New Zealand rugby dignitaries and Samoa rugby representatives were amongst the hundreds that gathered at Mt Eden to remember the explosive Samoan flanker, Dylan Mika, who passed away suddenly last week to a suspected heart attack, aged 45.

Tributes flowed for Mika, also known as All Black 982.

Former All Black Sir Michael Jones says, "He was one of the most talented, natural and gifted rugby players that I had the pleasure of- mainly playing with-  I was so glad I didn't have to play against him too much".

"It's never a good thing.  Especially when you lose someone that's obviously close to us but also way too early,” says Auckland Blues coach and close friend Tana Umaga.

A formidable athlete and popular figure held in high regard by the NZ and Samoan communities, Mika is remembered by close friends and family as a "warm, wonderful caring man".

Jones says, "The greatest aspect about him is he had the most generous heart, so much aroha, and he was the first to awhi, the first to tautoko in times of need and so I think that's what we'll miss most.  Just a man who was there to love and serve".

Mika burst into the rugby spotlight in 1994 playing provincial rugby for Auckland, the Blues and two tests with Samoa's international side before being drafted into the All Blacks in 1999.

Jones says, “He wasn't only a great loosey but he could play No.8 and play lock and I think his versatility will always stand out.  He was 6.4ft and he was much bigger than Zinny and myself".

Mika played a total of seven tests with the All Blacks.  After his retirement he continued to play an active role in the rugby community. 

"He was such a quiet achiever and a high achiever,” says Jones, “He had massive networks and he was very influential and he had so much mana, and I think that spreads wide and far and it has width and breadth".

Mika leaves behind wife Tracy and daughter Marley as well as a community of loyal fans and team mates across the Pacific.