FORMER Super League player Stephen Holgate has died aged 49.

Tributes have been paid to the ex-Wigan and Workington Town forward, who was a Grand Final winner with the former club in 1998.

The Warriors said in a statement: "Wigan Warriors are deeply saddened to hear of the news that Stephen Holgate has died aged 49.

"Holgate played 22 games for Wigan in 1998, including the Super League Grand Final.

"We send our deepest condolences to Stephen’s family and friends at this awful time."

Workington have also paid tribute to the Cumbria-born England international, whose former clubs also included Hull FC and Halifax.

The Derwent Park club said in a statement: "It’s with great sadness that we learn of the passing of ex-player Stephen Holgate.

"An extraordinarily talented player who we are privileged to say graced Derwent Park.

"Rest in peace marra."

Holgate, from Whitehaven, played for Hensingham before emerging as a star with Town in the mid-90s.

The prop and second row earned a move to Wigan in 1996 in a £100,000 deal.

His time at Wigan Warriors included a starting role in the inaugural Super League Grand Final, which saw Wigan beat Leeds Rhinos in front of 43,000 fans at Old Trafford.

He made one appearance for England in 1995 and later played for Hull Sharks and Halifax Blue Sox in the late 90s and early 00s, before returning to play in his native west Cumbria.

The circumstances of his death have not yet been revealed.

Whitehaven posted on Twitter: "It is with great sadness that the club have learned of the passing of local lad Stephen Holgate who represented his county, Wigan and our neighbours Workington Town as well several other clubs.

"Our condolences go to his family and all connected with Stephen. RIP."