FORMER ALL BLACKS and Fiji winger Joelie Otters has died at the age of 48, his Auckland Blues super rugby franchise announced on Friday.
His death came less than 24 hours after the death of another former All Black and Blues winger Vaaigi Tuigamala.
“With a heavy heart, we announce the death of Joel Vidira, 48,” the blues said on Twitter.
“GOAT is used often these days, more than necessary. In the case of Joel, the title really fits. One of the greatest players of all time. “
Otters played seven games for Fiji before moving to New Zealand and played 62 games for the Blues and two tests in 1998 for All Blacks.
In full flight Otters was an imposing figure with pace and strength, and for most of his career in New Zealand he played alongside Jonah Loma, who is considered the world’s first rugby union superstar.
An otter’s biography on the All Blacks website states that “it is doubtful whether the two other imposing figures were ever together in any direction.”
“And especially in the 1996-97 season Otters was the more efficient of the two.”
Like Lom, Otter’s playing career was cut short by kidney disease, and he retired in 2001.
Tuigamala, affectionately known as “Inga Winger”, starred in both the rugby union and the rugby league.
He earned 19 All-Blacks games and represented Samoa in both rugby codes, and was a key part of Wigan’s team that dominated the English National Rugby League in the early 1990s.