Several All Blacks have taken the World Cup on an unscheduled detour to a New Zealand cemetery for an emotional graveside tribute to fallen teammate Jerry Collins.
The players took time out from their national victory tour to take the William Webb Ellis trophy to the grave of Collins, who died in a car crash in France last June.
A number of players posted pictures on social media late Thursday of themselves at the grave on the outskirts of Wellington.
“Good to share this one with the brother. Love you JC,” Dan Carter posted on Instagram, with a graveside picture of himself, Sonny Bill Williams, Jerome Kaino, Liam Messam and Ma’a Nonu.
Thursday would have been Collins’ 35th birthday and Kaino tweeted “Happy belated birthday USO (brother)! Love you… always got you”.
Known as the “human wrecking ball” who played with a smile on his face, Collins appeared in 48 Tests for the All Blacks, including three as captain.
He and partner Alana Madill were killed, with three-month-old daughter Ayla seriously injured, when a bus ploughed into the back of their car on a motorway near Beziers on June 5.
The All Blacks will take part in the final stop of their victory tour with a ticker tape parade through Wellington later Friday. – Agence France-Presse