Rising rugby league star tragically passes away, aged 20

Promising New Zealand rugby league player Zae Wallace has died after being struck down with the flu.

The former New Zealand Secondary School and Under-18s representative returned to Auckland this year following a spell with Gold Coast Titans’ Under-20s and had been in an induced coma for four weeks.

At the beginning of the 2017 season, Wallace signed a professional contract with the Titans to play in the NYC Under-20s competition. Wallace enjoyed a season with the Titans and then joined Burleigh Bears in the Intrust Super Cup.

The 20-year-old half-back was named Auckland Rugby League’s College Player of the Year in 2016.

Wallace had returned to his native New Zealand to play with the Northcote Tigers and had only made one appearance when he became ill.

One of Wallace’s friends wrote: “Champions don’t stop, they dust themselves off and push on. This young man is all champion.”

And a NZRL spokesperson said: “Our deepest condolences go out to Zae’s family and friends, not only was he a rising league star with exciting skill and potential, he was loved by many. A young talent that will be sorely missed.”

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