Record-breaking Super Rugby try scorer Sean Wainui died in a car crash on Monday, plunging New Zealand rugby into mourning.
The 25-year-old rising star died in a single-vehicle accident when his vehicle hit a tree, police said.
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said the death of the Waikato Chiefs centre was “a dark day for rugby”.
“Sean’s passing will be felt deeply by everyone involved in rugby, particularly his Bay of Plenty and Chiefs teammates, we share their sorrow and their shock,” he said in a statement.
Former All Black Sonny Bill Williams paid tribute on social media.
“Although I didn’t play alongside him, I could always feel his mana (stature) coming up against him as his opposition,” he tweeted.
Wainui represented the Maori All Blacks and began his Super Rugby career with the Canterbury Crusaders.
He joined the Chiefs in 2018 and in June this year scored five tries against the NSW Waratahs in a 40-7 rout in Sydney, setting a record for the most tries by a player in a single match.