Maori All Blacks back Sean Wainui has died after being involved in a single car accident on Monday.
he 25-year-old played 10 games for the Maori All Blacks and made 44 Super Rugby appearances for the Chiefs after a spell with the Crusaders.
His death was confirmed by family members and by New Zealand Rugby which said “one of New Zealand Rugby’s tallest Totara trees has fallen”.
He leaves behind a devastated wife Paige and two young children – son Kawariki, 2, and step-daughter, Arahia.
Police said they were notified at 7.50am that a vehicle had crashed into a tree at McLaren Falls Park near Tauranga on New Zealand’s North Island.
Wainui was the only occupant.
“To you Sean, our Rangatira (chief), we farewell you to the outspread arms of the multitudes who await you beyond this earthly realm,” New Zealand Rugby said in a statement. “You leave us here bereft and (to) drown in sorrow as we weep for you.”
Chief executive Mark Robinson sent New Zealand Rugby’s condolences to Wainui’s family.
“Our thoughts are with Sean and his whanau (family), particularly Paige, Kawariki and Arahia, and we offer them our full support,” Robinson 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.”
My thoughts are with Sean Wainuis’ family. Especially his wife & young child. Although I didn’t play alongside him, I could always feel his mana coming up against him as his opposition. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) October 18, 2021
Wainui played 44 matches for the Chiefs from 2018. He also played nine times for the Christchurch-based Crusaders and was a New Zealand Maori representative from 2015.
Wainui scored five tries for the Chiefs against the New South Wales Waratahs in June, a Super Rugby record.
Wainui joined the Chiefs in 2018 where he was a hugely popular figure with the fans.
He broke the record for number of tries in a Super Rugby game with five against the Waratahs earlier this year before joining provincial side Bay of Plenty.
“He was an influential member in the teams he has been a part of and his presence will be missed,” Maori All Blacks, Chiefs and former Bay of Plenty 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 Maori who was an exceptional player but more importantly father and husband.”