Rugby community mourns ’loving and caring soul’
A TALENTED Gold Coast football player has been remembered as "selfless" and "one of the heartiest kids ever" after his tragic death this week.
Tira Junior "TJ" Rau was just 18 years old when he passed away on Wednesday morning, sparking an outpouring of support and grief from the community.
His death is not being treated as suspicious.
The youngest of 10 and "apple of his mum's eye", he was well-known in the Gold Coast rugby league community as a charismatic and intelligent player.
He played at hooker in the top side for his school Keebra Park last year and had stints at the Runaway Bay, Burleigh, Southport and Parkwood clubs, many of which have taken to social media to mourn the promising young player.
He played top grade for both Runaway Bay under-18 and under-20 this year, such was his talent, and was an Oztag representative.
In his final rugby league game just five weeks ago he scored a try in Bay's under-20 grand final qualifier loss.
Club members performed a haka on Wednesday night in memory of their fallen teammate.
"Yesterday we lost a member of our Bay family and the outpouring of support from the rugby league community was astounding," read a post on the club's Facebook page.
"Over 70,000 hits in less than 24 hours just goes to show how much the loss of this young man affected our community.
"TJ was a loving and caring soul whose smile could light up a room. We send our thoughts and prayers to TJ's family, friends and teammates."
TJ's former Keebra Park coach Glen Campbell said he and the school had been left stunned by the news.
"We're devastated, he was part of our Keebra family through rugby league and basketball," he said.
"He's going to be really sorely missed."
His final Instagram post, shared just a week before his death, shows a visit to his father's grave in New Zealand, where it appears TJ had been visiting his mother and family.
TJ's partner Kara Roberts shared a message via social media to the young man she said had been her best friend from Year 9.
"As the years went on our bond grew, then later on in the senior year it turned into something a little more than just friends," she wrote.
"Around the time of Schoolies, we made it official and went into the big bad world together.
"You were the cheekiest fulla ever, you looked after those you cared about, you treated my family as your own, you made me laugh till I couldn't breathe, you comforted me when I needed someone to cry on.
"You told me off when you knew I was doing something stupid, you had my back through everything, you knew everything about me and you loved me with everything in you.
"I really just wish I could've had one day to talk and tell you that I'm here for you always."
A Gofundme page to help pay funeral costs raised more than $1300 of its $1000 goal in just five hours yesterday.
TJ leaves behind mother Kahukura and siblings Shamim, Zak, Suie, Rangitiaho, Benjamin, Hadlee, Kahn, Jade and Sapphire.
If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 11 13 14 or visit Lifeline.org.au.