Former All Blacks loose forward Jerry Collins, who died in a car crash in France on Friday, was one of New Zealand’s toughest and most uncompromising forwards.
Collins, 34, and his wife Alana were killed near the town of Beziers in southern France, near where he was playing for French second division club Narbonne.
New Zealand Rugby tweeted that the organisation was “shocked and saddened” at Collins’ death while All Blacks and Wellington teammate Piri Weepu also tweeted his sadness.
“Had the privilege and honour of bleeding with him on the weekends on the field. Words can’t express how sad I am brother. RIP big brother JC!”
Samoa-born and Wellington-raised, Collins made his All Blacks debut against Argentina aged 20 in June 2001, and went on to play 48 Tests for New Zealand, three as captain.
The blindside flanker scored five tries in his six-year career, playing his last Test against France at Cardiff in October 2007.
New Zealand Rugby’s website described Collins, cousin of former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga, as a tough and uncompromising forward.
“His ferocious tackling and intimidating presence made him feared by every opponent.”
Collins was part of the New Zealand under-19 team who won the world junior Championship in 1999, and began his provincial career the same year, going on to play 47 games for Wellington.
He began his Super Rugby career with the Hurricanes in 2001, and played 74 games for the franchise before bowing out in 2008.
Collins played for Toulon in 2008-09 season, going on to play the following two seasons for Welsh club Ospreys.
He joined Yamaha in Japan’s Top League for two seasons, and in January this year signed as injury cover with Racing Club Narbonne.