Māori All Blacks and Chiefs centre Sean Wainui has passed away after a car crash in the early hours of Monday morning, at the age of 25.
Bay of Plenty police issued a statement on Monday morning confirming one person had died after a single-vehicle crash at McLaren Falls Park. Wainui was the sole occupant of the car. He is survived by his wife Paige and their two children.
The young centre and occasional winger had amassed 10 appearances for the Māori All Blacks, scoring 40 points, while also representing New Zealand at U20 level.
He also made headlines earlier this year when he became the first Super Rugby player to score five tries in a single match, in the Chiefs’ one-sided win over the Waratahs in Sydney.
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 is from Whatatutu near Gisborne and spent most of his childhood in Auckland. He made his debut for Taranaki in 2014 while still a teenager and a year later earned his first Super Rugby contract with the Crusaders.
He made his Chiefs debut in 2018 against the Crusaders, and played 53 matches for Taranaki before joining Bay of Plenty this year for the NPC.
We are heartbroken right now. Sean, you were an inspiration and will never be forgotten. We extend all of our strength and aroha to your friends and whānau. 🖤
Kia au tō moe. pic.twitter.com/R0o9fqgW6R
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) October 18, 2021
— Gallagher Chiefs (@ChiefsRugby) June 13, 2021
New Zealand Rugby released a statement on Monday following the incident, in which they called it a 'dark day' for the game.
“Our thoughts are with Sean and his whānau [family], particularly Paige, Kawariki and Arahia, and we offer them our full support at what is the most difficult of times,” NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said in the statement.
“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.”
New Zealand Māori Rugby Board chair Farah Palmer said the game of rugby was in mourning.
“As a player we all saw what this young tāne was capable of and the passion and talent that he brought to the teams he represented, but we also saw a role model for young Māori, a caring father who was passionate about his culture, his language, and his identity,” Palmer said. “He will be sorely missed.”
Māori All Blacks, Chiefs and former Bay of Plenty head coach Clayton McMillan added that Wainui was an influential member of the teams he played in.
“Sean was an incredibly talented individual and held a great amount of mana among his fellow teammates and the wider rugby community,” McMillan said.
“He epitomised everything you could possibly ask for in a player. He will be remembered for being a passionate, hard-working, proud Māori who was an exceptional player but more importantly father and husband.”
Team of Us. Everyone In.
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