Former Chiefs and Maori All Blacks star Sean Wainui has died in a car accident.
The 25-year-old rising star died in a single-vehicle accident when his vehicle hit a tree, police said.
Wainui, who won the U20 World Cup with New Zealand in 2015, played at centre and at wing and made his Super Rugby debut with the Crusaders in 2016 before moving to the Chiefs in 2018.
Tributes were pouring in from the New Zealand rugby community on Monday morning.
"One of Rugby New Zealand’s tallest totara trees has fallen in the world of rugby. To you Sean, our Rangatira, we farewell you to the outspread arms of the multitudes who await you beyond this earthly realm. You leave us here bereft and drown in sorrow as we weep for you. Rest well in peaceful repose," an official All Blacks statement read.
NZ Rugby CEO Mark Robinson gave his condolences to Wainui’s wife Paige and their children Kawariki and Arahia.
"Our thoughts are with Sean and his whanau, particularly Paige, Kawariki and Arahia, and we offer them our full support at what is the most difficult of times," he said.
"We know Sean’s passing will be felt deeply by everyone involved in rugby, particularly his Bay of Plenty and Chiefs teammates, and we share their sorrow and their shock."
One of Rugby NZ’s tallest totara trees has fallen. To you Sean, our Rangatira, we farewell you to the outspread arms of the multitudes who await you beyond this earthly realm. You leave us here bereft and drown in sorrow as we weep for you. Rest well in peaceful repose. ?????? pic.twitter.com/ZhiCJ28OU1— Gallagher Chiefs (@ChiefsRugby) October 18, 2021
We are deeply saddened to hear news of the passing of Sean Wainui ?? Crusader #189, Sean will forever be a cherished member of our club. Our hearts go out to Sean’s whanau, friends, and all those in the rugby community who knew him. pic.twitter.com/6uryvgv5EA— Crusaders (@crusadersrugby) October 18, 2021
Our deepest condolences to Sean’s wife & children, his whanau, his teammates and all those lucky enough to have known Sean Wainui.We are honoured to have shared the field with you. A fierce and skilled warrior, we mourn your loss. ??E moe, e moe, okioki ai ?? pic.twitter.com/lP9uHnqhcS— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) October 18, 2021
Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of @ChiefsRugby, @BOPRugby and Maori @AllBlacks Sean Wainui. ??Our thoughts are with his Whanau, friends and all those in the rugby community who knew him at this time.You’ll be missed Sean, fly high ?? pic.twitter.com/OwYJeW0ZJ9— Hurricanes Rugby (@Hurricanesrugby) October 18, 2021