Taranaki and Manawatū players joined together to honour Sean Wainui before their Bunnings national provincial championship match in Inglewood on Saturday.
Wainui died in a car accident on Monday morning. He represented the Chiefs on 44 occasions and Taranaki 53 times before shifting to Bay of Plenty for this season. He was 25.
As many teams have done, both walked out onto TET Stadium together on a warm-still afternoon. Manawatū and the officials wore black armbands and Taranaki players donned red, green and gold around their arms and wrists.
On what would have been his 26th birthday, a moment of silence was observed before kick-off.
Taranaki captain and former teammate Teihorangi Walden and Manawatū's Jason Emery then laid Wainui's amber and black jersey on halfway.
A selection of players and support staff from both teams performed a moving haka, Tika Tonu, which was one of Wainui's favourites in a poignant tribute.
The crowd of 1400 clapped to show their respects before a sombre moment just before kick-off where you could feel a pin drop.
Speaking after Taranaki's 47-35 win, Walden said it was an incredibly emotional week for the team.
"We lost one of our brothers and we will be there tomorrow to send a brother off. We're just trying to focus on the good memories we have with Seany. That one was for Seany on his birthday too," he said.
Walden was pleased to win the match, which is Taranaki's seventh consecutive, for the first time since 2017, and remain unbeaten in the competition.
During the match, Taranaki scored six tries to five.
Manawatū scored first, followed by two Stephen Perofeta penalty kicks for Taranaki early in the match.
After a penalty try to Taranaki, halfback Liam Blyde scored a brace in the opening stanza, including an attractive kick-chase to help the home side lead 25-7 at the break.
Manawatū clawed their way back in the second half and narrowed the margin down to four points after a flurry of tries.
Taranaki found their mojo with tries to Perofeta, new winger Vereniki Tikoisolomone and debutant Josh Jacomb.
Manawatū's Drew Wild scored on full-time, but the damage had been done.
Taranaki has a two-week break before playing Southland on Sunday, November 7.
Taranaki 47 (Liam Blyde 2, Stephen Perofeta, Vereniki Tikoisolomone, Josh Jacomb tries, penalty try; Perofeta 3 con, 3 pen)
Manawatu 35 (Josiah Maraku, Tima Fainga'anuku, Ed Fidow, Griffin Culver, Drew Wild tries; Stewart Cruden 5 con).