Former Wales and British & Irish Lions full-back Lee Byrne has paid tribute to Jerry Collins a year after the New Zealand flanker’s death in a road traffic accident shocked the rugby world.
Collins and his wife Alana died in the accident in Beziers in France on 5 June 2015.
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The flanker played 48 times for the All Blacks and was an ever-present in the 2005 series between the All Blacks and the Lions. Byrne, a team-mate of Collins’ during his time at the Ospreys, was a pallbearer at the funeral of Collins last year.
Speaking to Wales Online, Byrne said: "The year has flown by and I still can’t believe he’s gone. It has been a terrible year for the sport with Jonah Lomu, Jerry and a couple of others. They were great friends. He's a legend of the game and Jonah, so their names are never going to die."
He added: "It’s a difficult time for his friends, family and the rugby world."
Collins has been remembered in a number of ways with his hometown stadium in Porirua renamed in his honour. A new headstone was unveiled at a ceremony in Wellington two days’ ago.
Byrne, along with Shane Williams, Mike Phillips and James Hook, has been involved in fund-raising efforts for Collins’ daughter Ayla, who survived the accident and now lives with her mother’s parents in Canada.
Byrne added: "She’s doing well. She’s over in New Zealand for the first time so it’s great for Jerry’s mother and father to see her in their home country for the first time."