Former New Zealand Secondary Schools and under-18 rugby league representative Zae Wallace has passed away at the age of just 20 after losing his fight with a serious infection.
The Westlake Boys’ High School product had been in an induced coma in Auckland City Hospital on a ventilator after developing pneumonia and then an infection.
Wallace had stints in the now-defunct NYC with the Gold Coast Titans in 2017 and in the Queensland Cup with the Burleigh Bears in 2018 before returning home to Auckland to link up with the Northcote Tigers in the Fox Memorial competition this year.
He excelled for the Akarana Falcons when they beat the Counties Manukau Stingrays in the 2016 National Championship final, the same year he was named the Auckland Rugby League’s college player of the year.
A Givealittle page was created in May to raise funds to support Zae in his battle. It has raised almost $33,000.
An update on the page posted yesterday said: “Zae’s fight is over and he has slipped away peacefully from us all today. He was surrounded by friends, family and limitless love and kindness.
“Zae’s family and close friends have been humbled by your support and love and blessed with the realisation he has touched so many lives in his to short time with us. The last weeks have been a terrible time for us all but you have all made it just a little bit easier.
“Givealittle funds will initially be used to help family with funeral expenses.
“He will always be in our hearts.”
Zae’s death comes two weeks after rugby league and the wider community mourned the passing of legendary former Kiwi and Vodafone Warrior Quentin Pongia, who lost his fight with cancer at the age of 48.
The Vodafone Warriors pass on their deepest sympathies to Zae’s family and friends.