Jerry Collins, Former New Zealand Rugby Star, Dies In Car Crash

Jerry Collins, former star of New Zealand’s national rugby team the All Blacks, has died in a car crash in France, CNN is reporting.

Also killed in the crash was Collins’ partner, Alana Madill. Their 3-month-old daughter, Ayla, was critically injured. As of this post, she remains in a hospital in critical condition. Collins, 34, born in Samoa, became a legend in New Zealand, playing for both the Hurricanes and for New Zealand’s national team, the All Blacks.

Tim Castle, Collins’ coach with the All Blacks, issued a statement on behalf of the team.

“[The All Blacks family is] distraught at the death of a much-loved son, brother and friend, and his partner Alana. I have been in touch with Jerry’s father Frank and other members of his family who are in Samoa at the moment. It’s obviously a terribly difficult time for them and together with New Zealand Rugby we are doing all we can to support them.”

After his career in New Zealand came to an end, Collins played rugby for teams in Japan, the U.K., and France, according to the Guardian.

On the field, Collins was known as an enforcer of almost superhuman proportions. With his blonde locks, described by Guardian sports writer Robert Kitson as “pint-of-Guinness” colored, and his 20-inch-biceps, he developed the nickname “The Hitman.”

Off the field, he was known for his big heart and casual attitude. In a 2007 interview, Collins said that he identified with his fans.

“I suppose I appealed more to the working-class man, the people who worked in the meat works and the factories. I got a lot of satisfaction out of that: people seeing you run out and enjoying what you’re doing.”

As of this post, the details of the car crash that killed Jerry Collins have not been made public.

[Image courtesy of: Getty Images/Jamie McDonald]