The former All Blacks star once made an appearance playing for Barnstaple RFC in 2007.

Former All Black forward Jerry Collins has died in a car accident in France in the early hours of this morning (Friday).

Collins, who layed 48 times for New Zealand in a seven-year international career which saw him represent the All Blacks at the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, once made a surprise appearance for Barnstaple Rugby Club.

While on holiday in North Devon in 2007, Collins was persuaded to play for Barnstaple RFC’s second XV team.

He then wore the club’s red socks in a Barbarians v South Africa invitation match at Twickenham.

Thirty-four-year-old Collins was travelling near the town of Beziers in southern France when his car was involved in a collision with a bus at 4.30am local time (3.30am BST).

French newspaper Midi Libre reported that Collins and his wife Alana Madill died in the accident, while their infant daughter Ayla, was rushed to hospital in Montpellier in a ‘desperate state’.

A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been advised of a serious vehicle accident in France in which All Black rugby player Jerry Collins was killed.”

Tributes to Collins

A message from the All Blacks official Twitter account read: “We are shocked and saddened by reports about the accident involving Jerry.”

Collins announced his international retirement in 2008 and subsequently joined Top 14 side Toulon before moving to Wales to play for Ospreys.

The Samoa-born back-rower went on to spend two years in Japan playing for Yamaha Jubilo before joining French second division side Narbonne in January.

Collins made his debut for Super Rugby side the Hurricanes in 2001 - the same year he made his All Blacks bow - and the Wellington-based team held a minute’s silence before their game against the Highlanders in Napier on Friday night.

All Blacks past and present were among those to pay tribute to Collins on Twitter after news of his death emerged.

“Very sad day to hear a team mate , and our very good friend Jerry Collins has passed. £allblacklegend,” Collins’ former New Zealand and Hurricanes team-mate Piri Weepu tweeted.

“Such sad news about Jerry, his wife & baby.... R.I.P Hitman,” Cory Jane wrote, while Charles Piutau posted: “R.I.P Jerry Collins and his wife. prayers to the baby and the family in this time.£legendofthegame £hitman.”

Other figures from the world of rugby also took to Twitter to express their condolences.

Wales captain Sam Warburton tweeted: “What a huge loss. Inspiration to many young players growing up including myself. RIP Jerry Collins and his wife Alana. Best wishes baby Ayla.”

Former England scrum-half Matt Dawson wrote: “Terrible news about Mr & Mrs Jerry Collins. Jerry was the @JONAHTALILOMU of the forwards. A rugby inspiration of his time.”

Former Ireland skipper Brian O’Driscoll posted: “Terrible news about Jerry Collins & his wife in France. Thoughts are with his family.”