New Zealand-born league star Dana Wilson has died in a car crash in England.

The Cook Islands international was living near Manchester with wife Kirsten and their three children and playing for Swinton Lions.

"We are all stunned," said Swinton chairman John Kidd.

"Dana was a great personality who has made a massive contribution to the success the club has achieved this season.

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"He was a big character both on and off the pitch and our sympathy goes out to his family both here and in New Zealand."

Friends and fans left emotional tributes to the 28-year-old prop on the Love Rugby League website and a Facebook page called R.I.P. Dana.

"God Bless you Dana Wilson and God Bless your family," said one. "We at Swinton Lions will miss you MASSIVELY. The Rugby League 'family' has lost one if it's own."

Wilson represented New Zealand at under-16 and under-18 level before switching allegiance to the Cook Islands, where his parents were born, and played for them in the 2006 World Cup qualifiers.

He joined Sydney club Manly for a season before moving to England in 2005. He had stints with Oldham, Leigh and Halifax before joining Swinton Lions two years ago. He was a key member of this year's promotion-winning team.