Hurricanes and All Blacks legends have honoured their former teammate Jerry Collins after "tragic news" broke of his death.
Rugby great Jonah Lomu Tweeted: "Rest n peace My brother JC n your lovely lady. You will be surely missed Prayers to your little may she Survive ofa atu colins family."
Rest n peace My brother JC n your lovely lady . You will be surely missed Prayers to your little may she Survive ofa atu colins family.— JONAH LOMU (@JONAHTALILOMU) June 5, 2015
Fullback Christian Cullen who played several seasons wearing both yellow and black said the passing of his former teammate was "tragic news".
"He was a big part of Hurricanes rugby and a big part of New Zealand rugby in general," he said in the build up to tonight's Super Rugby game in Napier.
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph, who coached Jerry Collins with the Wellington NPC team, said it was "horrible news".
Former Crusaders and All Blacks first five Andrew Mehrtens also paid his respects to the 48-Test All Black, while Sky Sport commentator and former All Black halfback Justin Marshall recalled playing when "Jerry first made his All Blacks debut".
"He’s one of us, an All Black ... He's gone too young and terribly missed," he said tonight.
Before the Hurricanes vs Highlanders Super Rugby match in Napier tonight both teams huddled together to observe a moments silence, while a montage of Collins' highlights for the All Blacks and Hurricanes played on the ground's big screens.
During the match, Hurricanes second five Ma'a Nonu scored a try in the closing stages of the match and pointed to the sky in what appeared to be a tribute to Collins.
Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith honoured Collins after the Wellington-based team's 56 to 20 win over the Highlanders.
“I think it was overshadowed tonight by the passing of one of our club members, but it was good way to remember him,” he said.
Tributes have poured in for Collins from former All Blacks and Hurricanes teammates on social media after news broke of his death in a car crash in France.
The NZ Embassy has confirmed that 34-year-old Collins and his wife died at 4.30am local time in a road accident on the A9 motorway in the Herault region.
The couple's three-month-old daughter was taken to hospital "in a desperate state".
Former All Blacks halfback Piri Weepu, who was Collins' teammate with New Zealand and the Hurricanes, said it was a "privilege and honour" to play with his big brother.
My heart and sadness goes out to jerry's wife and her family. And also to the collins family.. alofa atu!!— Piri Weepu (@piriweepu) June 5, 2015
Had the privilege and honour of bleeding with him on the weekends on the field. Words cant express how sad I am brother. RIP big brother JC!— Piri Weepu (@piriweepu) June 5, 2015
Other All Blacks, Hurricanes and Wellington teammates, including Rodney So'oialo and Cory Jane took to Twitter to share their grief.
Such sad news about Jerry, his wife & baby.... R.I.P Hitman...— Cory Jane (@CoryJane1080) June 5, 2015
The Hurricanes, who are playing the Highlanders tonight at McLean Park in Napier, said the team would honour Hurricane No.82 with a huge game for the man who "always will be a huge part of the Canes legacy".
We are shocked and saddened to hear of Jerry and his wife's passing tonight. Our thoughts & prayers are with the family and baby Ayla...— Hurricanes Rugby (@Hurricanesrugby) June 5, 2015
We plan to go out there tonight and honour the hell out of Hurricane No. 82. RIP Jerry, you will always be a huge part of the Canes legacy.— Hurricanes Rugby (@Hurricanesrugby) June 5, 2015
We are shocked and saddened by reports about the accident involving Jerry.— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) June 5, 2015
Struggling to think that its happened.. dont want to believe it!!— Piri Weepu (@piriweepu) June 5, 2015
Sad news . Terrible rip JC top man— Zac Guildford (@zacguildford11) June 5, 2015
Don't want to believe it— keven_mealamu (@kevenmealamu) June 5, 2015
Rugby players based in Europe who played with and against Collins have payed tribute to one of the biggest hitters the game has ever seen. While the Springboks also shared their condolences for the man who was "close to our hearts too".
Terrible news about Jerry Collins & his wife in France. Thoughts are with his family.— Brian O'Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) June 5, 2015
Shocking news about Jerry Collins. My thoughts are with his family. Hope the reports are not true— Nick Evans (@nick10evans) June 5, 2015
Really sad to learn what hapenned to Jerry Collins, his wife and daughter! All my thoughts go to their family! #RIPJerryCollins— Thierry Dusautoir (@TitiDusautoir) June 5, 2015
Love you uso, May God look after your little one #thehitman— Sonny Bill Williams (@SonnyBWilliams) June 5, 2015