Waratahs back-rower Wycliff Palu is in doubt for this weekend's Super Rugby clash against the Bulls in Sydney this week following the death of his father last week.
Prop Sekope Kepu and his teammates say that as much as they need in form Palu in the team they will understand if he is unable to play.
The Waratahs said last week that Palu was unavailable last week against the Force due to injury but they have now revealed that it was due to the death of his father.
This week he is available for selection but did not train with the team on Tuesday and Kepu says that he and several of the Polynesian members of the Tahs had planned to visit him and his family for a traditional homage.
"We are emotional people and he is very close to his father, hence why he spent the last few years living with his 'olds' (parents) ... to help out," Kepu told the Sydney Morning Herald.
''He has felt the impact but he is holding himself together strong, and a few of us boys are going to head out tonight and do a traditional token of respect and show our love to him and his family."
While there are doubts that Palu will play on Saturday Kepu said that he hopes his Tongan-heritaged team-mate will find a way to "release those emotions and express himself and do what he loves doing outside of his family ... and be the beast he can be".
While Kepu says that he will understand if Palu does not play he said that his absence in a match is always felt such is the impact he makes when he is in top form and fitness.
"There are moments in the game that he can change, (with) big runs or (when he) flattens or turns the mental attitude, or weakens the opposition," Kepu said.
"He brings those attributes and (we) obviously miss that.
"But again, we have Will (Skelton), who has come in and he has done a really good job in the second row and allows 'Potsy' (Jacques Potgieter) to have a bit of a break on the side of the scrum from the pushing."
"(Palu) is severely missed, but we have ability and depth, and if you can't do that as a team you are not going to win the competition."