Super Rugby: Blues pay respects to Mike Tamoaieta in Sunwolves win

Captain Sonny Bill Williams has dedicated the Blues' first win of the Super Rugby season to former player Mike Tamoaieta, who died earlier this month.

After losing their first three matches of the season, the Blues bounced back with a hard-fought 28-20 win over the Sunwolves

But the win means so much more following Tamoaieta's sudden death.

The news of the 23-year-old's death came through just before the Blues' defeat against the Jaguars in Argentina, and it undoubtedly played on their minds in a scrappy encounter.

After returning to New Zealand, the team bid farewell to Tamoaieta on Friday at his funeral, and there was a moment's silence before the Sunwolves game at QBE Stadium - the home ground for Tamoaieta's provincial side North Harbour.

All the Blues players wore black armbands, with Tamoaieta's no 276 emblazoned on their jerseys.

Williams said while some players are still struggling with the news, it has brought the team closer together.

Sonny Bill Williams.
Sonny Bill Williams. Photo credit: Photosport

"The last couple of weeks have been really tough for us," Williams said. "We just tried to take that heavy heart, clear mind attitude into training and into games.

"The boys are hurting. We're hurting for Mikey's family, for his little one. We just tried to go out there and put on a performance for Mikey that he would appreciate and, as you saw at the scrum, the boys really got up for that.

"I'm always one to acknowledge that it is only a game and the last couple of weeks have shown that.

"For me, seeing the boys come together and the camaraderie the boys showed to each other, obviously some of the boys were a lot closer to Mikey than others and have taken it a little bit harder, but I think it showed how tight we are as a group, as a team, as a club and it's just cool to see.

"It is only a game at the end of the day, and at the funeral, it was pretty tough; some things that happened, some footage that we saw - it touches you. For myself, we honour that by showing how grateful we are to firstly be pro sportsmen and do what we love doing, but cherish our family members, cherish our kids, cherish our mums and dads."

On the field, the Blues outscored the Sunwolves four tries to two - with winger Rieko Ioane bagging all four tries for the New Zealand side.

The Blues have the bye next week, but are back in Action on March 22 against the Highlanders at Eden Park.

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