Māori All Blacks and Chiefs player Sean Wainui has died in a car accident in New Zealand, aged 25.
- Wainui played 10 matches for the Māori All Blacks
- He made 44 Super Rugby appearances for the Chiefs and also played for the Crusaders
- The 25-year-old was described as a “passionate” and “exceptional” player
The single-vehicle accident occurred on Monday morning in Omanawa, near Tauranga in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty region.
Wainui was the sole occupant of the car.
He played 10 matches for the Māori All Blacks and made 44 Super Rugby appearances for the Chiefs after a spell with the Crusaders.
“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,” New Zealand Rugby (NZR) chief executive Mark Robinson said in a statement.
NZR also paid its respects to Wainui vai the All Blacks’ Twitter account.
“We are heartbroken right now,” the tweet read.
The Chiefs expressed their condolences to Wainui’s family on Twitter.
“You leave us here bereft and drown in sorrow as we weep for you,” the tweet read.
Wainui — who played on the wing and in the centres — joined the Chiefs in 2018. He was a hugely popular figure with the fans.
He scored a record five tries for the Chiefs against the NSW Waratahs in the Super Rugby trans-Tasman tournament earlier this year.
Wainui was playing with Bay of Plenty in New Zealand’s national provincial competition this season.
“He was an influential member in the teams he has been a part of and his presence will be missed,” Māori All Blacks head coach Clayton McMillan said.
“He epitomised everything you could possibly ask for in a player. He will be remembered for being a passionate, hard-working, proud Māori who was an exceptional player but more importantly father and husband.”
Wainui also represented New Zealand at the under-20 level.
He was a member of New Zealand’s world under-20 championship-winning squad in 2015.