Tributes have poured in for New Zealand rugby star Jerry Collins who was killed in a road smash in southern France.
Collins, a former All Blacks captain, who had a stint playing for Ospreys in Wales, died along with his wife Alana Madill in the accident near Béziers, south-west of Montpellier.
The couple’s three-month-old daughter was taken to hospital in a serious condition, according to authorities in the Herault region.
The vehicle Collins was travelling in collided with a bus on the A9 motorway, according to AFP.
Collins, 34, who played 48 tests for the All Blacks and captained them three times, was playing for Narbonne in France’s second division.
Wellington Hurricanes, his former team in New Zealand, said they would hold a minute’s silence before their game against the Otago Highlanders in Napier later on Friday (June 5).
“We are shocked and saddened to hear the news of Jerry and his wife Alana passing,” Hurricanes Chief Executive James Te Puni said in a statement.
“Obviously Jerry was a special part of both the Hurricanes and Wellington Lions over the years.
“He was an extraordinary leader and player, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this time.”
Known for his hard-edged, abrasive style and crunching tackles, Collins was widely considered one of the most intimidating players to ever play for the All Blacks.
A former rubbish collector, Collins captained his club side as an 18-year-old and made his provincial debut for Wellington in 2000, though he did not play for the Hurricanes until 2001 due to a broken leg.
He also made the All Blacks that year aged 20 and went on to play 48 times for the national side, including at the 2003 and 2007 World Cups.