Story highlights

Jerry Collins killed with his partner in car crash in France

Former All Black played 48 tests for national team

CNN  — 

New Zealand rugby star Jerry Collins and his partner, Alana Madill, have been killed in a car crash in France.

The accident has orphaned the couple’s three-month-old baby daughter, Ayla, who is in critical condition in hospital.

Collins’ long-term manager Tim Castle issued a statement on behalf of the former All Black’s family which said they were “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,” Castle said.

“It’s obviously a terribly difficult time for them and together with New Zealand Rugby we are doing all we can to support them.”

Born in Samoa, the 34-year-old loose forward made his Super Rugby debut with the Hurricanes and then the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national team, in 2001, according to the team’s website.

He played 74 games for the Hurrricanes and 50 for the All Blacks, including 48 tests, before retiring after the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Collins left New Zealand in 2008 to play rugby in Japan and France, where he signed with the Narbonne club earlier this year.

Tributes flowed in from the rugby world and beyond.

“Jerry Collins is an undisputed legend of the game,” said Greg Peters, the chief executive of SANZAR – South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby.

“He inspired all of those around him with his passion and love for the game throughout a highly decorated career for club and country.”

Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver praised him as “right up there with the all-time great players to wear the All Black jersey.”