Maori All Blacks back Sean Wainui died aged 25 in a car accident on Monday, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) said in a statement.
Wainui played 10 games for the Maori All Blacks and made 44 Super Rugby appearances for the Chiefs after a spell with the Crusaders.
“We know Sean’s passing will be felt deeply by everyone involved in rugby, particularly his Bay of Plenty and Chiefs team mates and we share their sorrow and their shock,” NZR CEO Mark Robinson said.
He asked the media to give the Wainui family “space to grieve as we all reflect on a young life that has ended far too early”.
Media reported that the single-vehicle accident took place in Omanawa, near Tauranga and Wainui was the sole occupant of the car.
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.”