Leicester Tigers stars and legends pay tribute to fallen teammate

Geordan Murphy, the current Tigers head coach, is joined by fellow former teammates of Seru Rabeni, Ben Youngs and Manu Tuilagi, as well as Leicester legend Dusty Hare, who was the club’s Chief Scout during the Fiji international’s five seasons in the East Midlands.

Born in 1978, the same year as Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy, the Fijian spent five seasons at Welford Road and quickly became a favourite among fans and team mates for his tireless efforts on the pitch and energetic, positive influence off it.

A powerful, entertaining and exciting player to watch, Rabeni wreaked havoc on opposition sides in the midfield and on the wings for Leicester in his time at Tigers and on 39 occasions for Fiji, none more memorable than his incredible performance in the historic win over Wales at the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Once he retired he qualified as a teacher and spent the majority of his time giving back to his native Fiji and working towards alleviating poverty on his home island of Vanua Levu.

However, tragedy struck in March 2016 as the rugby world was shocked when news broke that Rabeni had passed away, aged just 37.

“He would walk in to a room and brighten it up, straight away with his smile and his laughter,” says Ben Youngs.

A common theme for anybody recalling tales of their time with him was the wide grin of the Pacific Islander, with former team mate and now Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy adding: “He was a funny, funny man and always happy, always smiling.”

“His personality off the pitch was the way he played on it, always smiling and giving everything he had for his team mates.”

One man his influence remains with still to this day is Manu Tuilagi, who was a member of the Tigers Academy during Rabeni’s days in Leicester and says he looked up to Seru when making his way through the ranks.

“I definitely tried to learn from him, he had it all and I looked up to him,” Tuilagi says.

“He had the feet, the power, the skills, he just had it all.”

In addition to the grin he had plastered across his face from sunrise to sunset, Rabeni’s on-field efforts are what those who played and trained alongside him remember as being his biggest asset.

“His personality off the pitch was the way he played on it, always smiling and giving everything he had for his team mates,” says Youngs.

Dusty Hare, a Tiger through and through, says it was more than just the effort he put in but also the way he took to the culture of the club while in Leicester that made him special.

“He just gave it his all on the pitch and I think that’s why the supporters and his team mates loved him so much, because he gave it all for Tigers,” said Hare.

“Any player, local or from abroad, who gets involved with what the Tigers DNA is going to be a favourite of the fans and among their team mates, which Seru did.

“He gave everything to and for the club while he was here.”

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