The Vodafone Warriors have passed on their condolences to Luke Tipene’s family after the talented 17-year-old died after an attack outside a Grey Lynn house in Auckland early on Saturday morning.
Police have since charged a 16-year-old male with murder. He is due to appear in the Auckland Youth Court on Monday.
Vodafone Warriors academy and pathways manager Duane Mann spoke to Tipene’s family on Saturday morning to pass on condolences on behalf of the club.
“This is awful for Luke’s family as well as all of us at the club,” said Mann.
“We’re absolutely devastated and are all trying to come to terms with what has happened.
“We held Luke in the highest regard. He was a player with real ability who was just starting out on his dream of becoming a professional rugby league player.
“He’d come through our development system and had been contracted to our NYC squad next season.
“To lose someone so young with so much talent is terrible.”
A hooker or loose forward, Tipene played for the Glenora Bears and was named the Auckland Rugby League’s Under-17 player of the year after his club side won the under-17 premiership this season. He also captained the champion Akarana Falcons in the Under-17 grade at the NZRL National Youth Tournament. Tipene was selected for the New Zealand Maori Under-17 side and was named in the New Zealand Under-16 merit team last year.
Educated at Nga Kakano o te Kaihanga Kura in Henderson, he was fluent in Te Reo.
Vodafone Warriors players, members and fans have been expressing their sympathies through their own social media accounts and also on the club's Facebook and Twitter accounts.