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Sean Wainui in action for Bay of Plenty
Wainui represented the All Blacks at Under 20 level and played with Bay of Plenty this year

New Zealand rugby player Sean Wainui has died in a car crash.

Police said the 25-year-old, a former under-20 international, was killed in a single-vehicle accident when his car hit a tree near Tauranga.

Wainui played 10 times for the Maori All Blacks and made 44 Super Rugby appearances for the Waikato Chiefs.

In June, he scored five tries against the NSW Waratahs – setting the record for the most tries by a player in a single Super Rugby match.

He also played for Bay of Plenty during the 2021 provincial rugby season.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said the father-of-two’s death 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 team-mates,” he said in a statement.

“We share their sorrow and their shock.”

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.

Maori All Blacks, Chiefs and former Bay of Plenty head coach Clayton McMillan praised Wainui’s achievements.

“He was an influential member in the teams he has been a part of and his presence will be missed,” he said.

“He epitomised everything you could possibly ask for in a player. He will be remembered for being a passionate, hard-working, proud Maori who was an exceptional player but more importantly father and husband.”

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