Kiwi beauty Rachel Hunter has penned a heartfelt tribute to her agent and mentor, the late All Black great Andy Haden.
Taking to social media this morning, the 50-year-old supermodel shared how heartbroken she was to be so far away at this sad time following the passing of Haden, who died after a long battle with cancer on Wednesday.
Posted alongside a picture of a smiling Haden in formal black attire, the Kiwi supermodel said the sportsman-turned-agent was pivotal in guiding her stellar career and a foundation in her life.
"A pillar of Strength, Wisdom & humor to me for 32 years, managing my career in New Zealand and guiding so many others. You and your family have been a foundation in my life," she wrote.
She also gave an insight into how close they had become over the years, saying he had become family to her own children she shared with rocker Sir Rod Stewart, whom she married in 1990.
"You have been family to me and my children. And will continue to be," she wrote.
"My prayers and love go to a family I love so much! Heartbroken to be away. Andy was and continues to be an Icon in so many ways, husband to an incredible woman Trecha, amazing father to Laura and Chris."
Hunter added it had been difficult to write for a person and family she loved so dearly and interspersed her Facebook post with broken-hearted emojis.
The tribute comes as former teammates shared their admiration for the trailblazing All Black captain.
Close friend Murray Mexted said Haden was driven by a desire to always improve, with his gentle nature off the paddock being incongruous to his competitive nature during matches.
"He was a man amongst men. We used to talk about him being ahead of his time. Of all the wonderful rugby contemporaries I had, he's the one I admired and respected the most," said Mexted.
Former All Black Graham Mourie said he was probably the first true professional rugby player, a man who had a massive influence on the game and was ahead of his time.
"He had a great sense of humour ... and he certainly was always looking to make sure that the team was well looked after. At times we called him the Minister of Lurks and Perks," he said.
Former All Blacks and Auckland coach John Hart praised Haden's character both on and off the pitch.
"I think he's a colossus, a legend of the game - both as a player and what he did in leading change," said Hart, who coached Haden during his career.
Haden's family have set up a Givealittle page in support of the nursing staff who had been "a tower of strength" in the All Blacks great's long battle with cancer.
A memorial service will take place at Eden Park at 1.30pm on Monday.