NEW Zealand players are being given the opportunity to sit out of this weekend’s clash against USA if they
are struggling with the sudden death of Chiefs and Maori All Blacks star Sean Wainui, who died in a car crash on Monday.
His death has sent shock waves throughout the rugby world, including in the All Blacks squad where everyone has played with or against Wainui at either international, Super Rugby, provincial or age-grade level, Rugby- Pass reports.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, All Blacks assistant coach John Plumtree said players who feel too upset to play in this weekend’s match have the option to sit out if required.
However, Plumtree said he would “be sur- prised” if players opted out.
“If there was someone that just couldn’t play because, mentally, it was just too tough, then absolutely, but I don’t think you’ll find that,” he said.
“I think you’ll find that Sean would have wanted all those boys to be available for this test match and I’d be surprised if one of them didn’t want to play.”
Plumtree added the loss of Wainui has had a particular impact on those who played alongside him at the Chiefs since 2018, as well as those from the Crusaders teams of 2016 and 2017 and those who have played for the Maori All Blacks since 2015.
“The passing of Sean Wainui has been really hard on the team. It hit us pretty hard,” Plumtree said.
“The Chiefs boys organised a little drink in the team room for anyone that wanted to join them, just in remembrance of him, and, I have to say, everyone came.
“They told some personal stories about what a fantastic person Sean is to them and there were some really beautiful moments.
“Pretty tough start to the week, but back to training today, so we’re into it and looking forward to getting back to what we do best, and that’s playing footy.”
New Zealand rugby is struggling to come to terms with the death of Maori All Blacks and Chiefs star Sean Wainui.
The 25-year-old died in a single-vehicle accident when his car hit a tree.
Wainui played for Taranaki, Crusaders, Chiefs and Bay of Plenty, as well as featur- ing for the Maori All Blacks on a number of occasions.
Since the news broke, the All Blacks have arrived in the USA for a Test match before heading over to Wales for the clash on Octo- ber 30. They’ve held a press conference where players who competed both alongside and against Wainui have been reacting to the news, which as hit the camp hard.
The teams Chiefs contingent – Anton Lienert-Brown, Brad Weber, Luke Jacobson,
Samasoni Taukeiaho, Angus Ta’avo, Brodie Retallick, Damian McKenzie, Quinn Tupaea, Tupou Vaa’i, Sam Cane, Josh Lord – will be among those most affected.
Experienced Crusaders hooker Codie Tay- lor fronted up to the media and tried to speak on behalf of the team in what was clearly an emotional media call.
“It really hits home. It shows how fragile life can be. You feel for his loved ones. It’s hard, he’s got kids,” Taylor said as he shed tears.
“I want to send love from the All Blacks to his family. It’s hugely devastating news to hear and I know they’ll be going through a lot right now. “It’s pretty tragic. He’s a man held in high regard among the rugby community. He was a special part of the Crusaders when he first
came down and a special part of the Chiefs, Māori All Blacks, Taranaki and the Bay.”
The teams have reported held meetings for players to share their memories of Wainui as they grieve together.
“It’s pretty tough. I know there’s a few boys in here really struggling as you’d expect. We touched on it this morning as a group and there’ll be another opportunity to do that later on. With a man with so much mana and respect it’s so sad. There’s a lot of shock. You don’t think it’s ever going to happen to anyone like that, but it does.
“It’s the cruel reality of the world. It’s hard to talk about. I know a lot of people will be hurting. It’s a pretty tough time.” — Wales Online.