Former Wigan and Newcastle winger Va'aiga Tuigamala dies at 52

He's been hailed as one of the finest to have played in both codes of rugby. Credit: PA Images

Former Wigan Warriors and Newcastle Falcons player Va'aiga Tuigamala, known as Inga the Winger, has died at the age of 52.

He made 102 appearance for the Cherry and Whites between 1993 to 1997, before signing for the Falcons for a record fee of £1 million.

There he made 113 appearances up to 2002, and featured in the 1998 Premiership-winning side.

Kris Radlinski, who played with Tuigamala said: "Every now and then a player comes along who touches the heart and soul of every single fan, player, coach and administrator - Inga was one of them.

"He was one of the most exciting rugby players to play either code. His presence on the rugby field was huge.

"As a teenager, he gave me the most precious thing that anyone could, time. We would spend hours on the field doing one on one’s together. It is a very sad day for the Club."

Wigan Warriors put out a statement on Twitter, sending their condolences to his family.

Meanwhile Newcastle Falcons described him as "a true great".

The news comes a few weeks after Tuigamala's younger sister, pastor Helen Verry, died after being seriously injured at a church in West Auckland. The reported workplace accident is being investigated.

Tuigamala won two Challenge Cup winners’ medals, two Regal ‘Trophy winners’, medals and a Premiership winners medal in his three seasons with Wigan and also helped the club beat Brisbane Broncos in the World Club Challenge.

He then reverted to rugby union by signing a five-year deal with Newcastle that reputedly cost the Kingston Park club £1 million and went on to win league titles with both the Falcons and Wasps.