The All Blacks and United States rugby teams have paid poignant tributes to the late Sean Wainui ahead of the Chiefs star’s funeral in Gisborne on Sunday morning.
Sam Whitelock and his All Blacks honoured Wainui with a special 11-second pause followed by a rousing haka before the start of their 104-14 win against the USA in Maryland on Sunday morning.
They showcased the No 11 jersey which was worn so often by Wainui, the Māori All Black who died in a car crash last Monday.
Prior to that there was a nice touch from the United States side, with two jerseys draped on the ground in tribute, with Whitelock and Dane Coles coming forward to accept them.
It is closed to the media, but a message was issued by New Zealand Rugby on behalf of Wainui’s whānau [extended family], his wife Paige and her whānau.
They said: “We just want to thank everyone for their love and generosity. The beautiful tributes that have come from those who loved him all across the world means a lot to us all.
“We understand there are many hurting right now and wanting to hear from the whānau, but please respect that we have just lost our baby brother, a son, a husband and a father and our focus right now is healing and laying my brother to rest.”
New Zealand rammed on an incredible 16 tries in the win, but the US also had a momentous occasion, scoring its first international try against the rugby superpower.